More than 95 percent of the U.S. population – those living in urban, suburban and rural America – are served by at least three competing carriers, and more than half live in areas served by at least five. Eight years ago there were 100 million U.S. wireless customers. Today, there are more than 270 million, and in 2008 they used more than 2.2 trillion minutes – a tenfold increase since 2000. At the same time, prices have declined precipitously. Revenue per minute has fallen 89 percent since 1994, and U.S. wireless prices are much lower than in any other industrialized county. And, while at&t and Verizon are currently the two largest wireless providers, the next two largest, Sprint and T-Mobile, have a combined 82 million customers, and the carriers that round out the top 10 have another nearly 20 million customers among them.
As wireless technology and services have grown exponentially in the last 25 years, California has been one of the prime engines of that growth. Strategic partnerships between carriers and handset manufacturers, application developers and content providers, the private and public sector give consumers access to unparalleled innovation in the wireless space.
Today, more than 160 wireless service providers in the U.S. directly employ more than 257,000 workers who earn salaries totaling more than $12 billion each year. This is in addition to the numerous early-stage companies, high-tech start-ups and small businesses in the wireless space that are also key contributors to the U.S. economy. California is home to one of the few areas where wireless start-ups cluster, Silicon Valley, where competition thrives, partnerships form and innovation flourishes.
According to the Federal Communications Commission, California serves the largest number of wireless users, 32,247,015, at the end of 2007.
The number of wireless users has more than doubled in California over the past 7 years.