| NEW YORK, March 13
NEW YORK, March 13 Mobile data brought U.S.
wireless carriers more revenue than voice calls did for the
first time last quarter, a milestone for the industry as faster
network speeds are prompting Americans to consume, and pay for,
more data than ever.
Mobile data service revenue reached $90 billion last year
and accounted for more than 50 percent of revenues for wireless
companies in the final quarter of 2013, according to research
published by Chetan Sharma Consulting late Wednesday.
"It is a milestone in the evolution of the industry," Chetan
Sharma, president of the Seattle firm, said in a phone
This year, Sharma predicts that the United States will
become the first country to bring in $100 billion in mobile data
revenue, a steep rise from the $1 billion the sector drew in
Customers are increasingly using their smart phones and
tablets the way they use desktop computers, driving the rise in
data consumption as they stream videos and download dense
applications, said Sharma.
Last month, Cisco Systems Inc issued a report
saying that by 2018, U.S. consumers will upload more data on
smartphones than they did on laptops in 2013.
Data packages will eventually devour voice services
altogether as companies experiment with transforming voice calls
into voice apps carried as data, Sharma said.
Later this year, Verizon and T-Mobile <TMUS.N > will
launch Voice over LTE which will transform a voice call into a
"Data is the driving force behind the wireless industry in
the US. It is what has led to a lot of smartphone and network
evolution," said Sharma.
The rise in data usage has also intensified competition
among the country's major carriers for growing revenue from
In the past month, Verizon and T-Mobile have
doubled the amount of data customers receive for the same price
while AT&T has cut prices for their 2GB plan by $15 a
At T-Mobile, customers are now consuming 50 percent more
data than they were one year ago, said spokeswoman Brandy
At a Deutsche Bank Media, Internet and Telecom Conference
earlier this month, Fran Shammo, CFO of Verizon said that while
competition is stiffer, revenues are growing.
"What we expect is that you will get more and bigger data
bundles, but people are going to use more, so the revenue drive
is going to continue," he said.
Mobile carriers are gearing up for a bitter face off for
more spectrum in government auctions, as they fear the demand
for data will soon exceed network capacity and connections speed
Verizon CFO Shammo said the quest for more spectrum is one
of the highest priorities on the company's budget.
"We need more spectrum," said Shammo at the conference.
"Since spectrum only comes to the market once in a while, you've
got to be in a position to execute on that."