Friday, May 14, 2010

Cellphones Now Used More for Data Than for Calls

NY Times -- "Although almost 90 percent of households in the United States now have a cellphone, the growth in voice minutes used by consumers has stagnated. This is true even though more households each year are disconnecting their landlines in favor of cellphones.

Instead of talking on their cellphones, people are making use of all the extras that iPhones, BlackBerrys and other smartphones were also designed to do — browse the Web, listen to music, watch television, play games and send e-mail and text messages. The number of text messages sent per user increased by nearly 50 percent nationwide last year, according to the CTIA, the wireless industry association.
And for the first time in the United States, the amount of data in text, e-mail messages, streaming video, music and other services on mobile devices in 2009 surpassed the amount of voice data in cellphone calls, industry executives and analysts say.

“Originally, talking was the only cellphone application,” said Dan Hesse, chief executive of Sprint Nextel. “But now it’s less than half of the traffic on mobile networks.”

MP: Isn't it interesting that historically the telephone replaced the telegraph, and talking on the phone replaced sending telegrams as the preferred method of communication. Now with the popularity of using phones for text messages and emails, it's almost like going back to sending telegrams by phone instead of talking on the phone.


At 5/15/2010 1:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If we're to believe that Network World article, we're still in the stone age.

My read is that their measurement methods were in the stone age.

Although one thing that skews this is the iphone is a bandwidth hog. I don't think people with iphones can sit in a fixed spot without doing something on the phone.

At 5/15/2010 4:22 AM, Blogger Tom Davis said...

Sending a telegram required going to the telegram office. Using a telephone was more convenient. You could do that from your home or office. Using SMS is even more convenient than placing a voice call as you don't have to wait for the other party to answer, you don't waste time identifying yourself, and you don't tie up your phone.

Sending a text message is definitely not like sending a telegram.

At 5/15/2010 5:56 AM, Anonymous PRND21 said...

NPR had an article last year on the number of text messages exceeding the number of voice calls placed. The tag line was that it was the revenge of the telegraph companies.

At 5/15/2010 9:53 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Hmmm, I wonder when this 'browse the Web, listen to music, watch television, play games' will saturate the bandwidth allocated?

Here's something that's happening that suits me: Wireless users opt for service without commitment

At 5/15/2010 10:26 AM, Anonymous morganovich said...

this transition happened a long time ago on land lines. (maybe 1999-2000?)

voice traffic is a tiny fraction of the telephone network.
the intersection of this with proposed net neutrality leads to some dramatic outcomes: if you cannot preference voice packets over data streams, then you only have 2 choices, 1. have terrible quality voice (which no one wants or will pay for) or 2. run the whole network at voice quality latency (incredibly wasteful and expensive)

net neutrality has never been about access, it'a a bunch of guys (like google) with massive, bandwidth intensive content that want guarantees that they can send it everywhere at no cost to themselves.

if net neutrality passes, internet service will go back to being usage base (pay per kb). (raise price to bank back demand) networks will have much lower effective capacity than in a world with QoS preferencing.

in many ways, it's a better solution and will result in better use of resources. having to decide what a downloaded bit torrent dvd is worth to you then making a consumption choice and paying the price eliminates the current tragedy of the commons under which everyone is incented to grab everything they want.

however, it will also mean that the price per bit of network infrastructure will be radically higher than present.

that's a real stifler of innovation.

on balance, net neutrality creates a huge cost sink and inefficiency (literally increasing costs 100% to run a whole net on voice quality latency) to solve a problem (access to sites and services) better handled by a wide choice of providers.

it masquerades as defending choice, but in reality limits it. i would rather choose a provider with traffic shaping and forgo instant bit torrent to make sure my IP phones work without having to double my monthly bill.

perhaps others feel differently, and if many do, providers that use a neutral system can grab them as customers.

sorry for the NN rant being slightly off topic, but it's an issue i think is broadly misunderstood and worth doing some harder thinking about.

At 5/15/2010 11:48 AM, Blogger GW South said...

Something that might interest you professor -

A good that one lawmaker decides is priced "too high", despite the market for this good being no different than the market for an apple. An Econ 101 student could tell this Congressman what will happen with a simple S/D graph.

At 5/15/2010 2:37 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

>"Wireless users opt for service without commitment"

Hmmm. Interesting. The article doesn't even mention one of the most important features pre-paid phones provide: anonymity.

At 5/15/2010 3:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually for the wireless use there is a good bit of space that could be reclaimed. Simply shut of terrestrial TV. Between cable and satellites its only an issue of money to cover everyone. Of course this does kill the local broadcaster and hurts the congress critter due to less competition. But if you just shut the UHF down that's another few hundred mhz in the desirable range.
Auction of the new spectrum with a 10 to 20 year re auction requirement. We gave the spectrum to the TV stations a long time ago, so they got a great deal while it lasted.

At 5/15/2010 5:14 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

GW South

I wish I hadn't followed that link you posted. I read the article, and now I'm upset. I never get used to the idea that busy bodies in Congress think they need to tell others how much they should pay for something,or how much they can charge.

And then there's this idiot:

>"Banks shouldn't be able to turn accessing your own money into a profit center," said Jean Ann Fox, director of financial services for the Consumer Federation of America.

Many people seem to prefer accessing their money right there at the mall instead of having to travel to their bank. If they didn't find it worth the cost they WOULDN'T DO IT! Why does Jean Ann Fox have a problem with that?

If charges are too high the market will magically adjust them.

At 5/15/2010 6:21 PM, Anonymous Derse said...

--. --- / ..-. ..- -.-. -.- / -.-- --- ..- .-. ... . .-.. ..-. / .--. . .-. .-. -.--

-.-- --- ..- / .-- --- .-. - .... .-.. . ... ... / .--. .. . -.-. . / --- ..-. / ... .... .. -

At 5/16/2010 5:14 PM, Anonymous doggyDish Party said...

Could you please expand on that. Tell us a bit more. Don't be so terse, Derse


.--. .. . -.-. . / ---

At 5/17/2010 9:34 AM, Anonymous Rand said...

When people use VOIP, does that count as voice traffic or data traffic? If it is counted as data, that could explain part of the difference.


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