The cellular industry showed signs of maturity in the first half of 2007, when penetration grew to an all-time high of 80.5 percent of the total US population, while the number of net new subscribers fell for the second consecutive year, CTIA statistics show.
The number of net new subscribers (after churn) fell 10.8 percent to 10.5 million in the first half of 2007 following a revised 4.7 percent decline in the year-ago period, the association said. That followed three years of double-digit percentage-rate surges. Nonetheless, this year’s 10.5 million first-half gain was the fifth largest first-half gain in the industry’s history, the statistics show.
With the additional 10.5 million subscribers, the subscriber base grew to 243.4 million at the end of June, up 10.8 percent from June 2006’s 219.7 million.
80.5 Percent Penetration: The subscriber-base expansion put the cellular penetration rate at the end of June to 80.5 percent of all 302.2 million men, women and children living in the United States. That’s up from 73.4 percent at the end of June 2006, 65.6 percent at the end of June 2005, and 57.7 percent at the end of June 2004. The cellular population exceeded half of the US resident population for the first time at the end of June 2003, when the penetration rate hit 50.9 percent.
Double-Digit Revenue Gains: Like maturing baby boomers entering their prime earnings years, the cellular industry earned more money in the first half, when total voice and data revues grew 12.3 percent over the first half of 2006 to $67.9 billion. The growth rate exceeded the first-half 2006 growth rate of 8.6 percent, which marked the first-ever single-digit percentage gain in first-half carrier revenues. First-half gains in previous years were 13 percent in 2005, 19 percent in 2004, and 12.7 percent in 2003.
Average June bills were up slightly despite a double-digit gain in the amount of time that subscribers talk over their phones, the statistics show. Wireless subscribers used more than 1 trillion minutes of talk time in the first six months of 2007, up about 18 percent from 850 billion minutes during the year-ago period. Wireless data revenues in the first half hit $10.5 billion, up 63 percent from the first half of 2006 to account for 15.5 percent of all wireless service revenues, up from 11 percent in the first half of 2006, the association said. (info from TWICE)