A report from telecom industry group CTIA highlighted the rise of data-only devices in the US wireless market, noting 90 per cent of net additions in Q1 2018 were IoT-related.

The group’s research showed additions at the opening of 2018 continued a trend observed in previous years: in 2017 as a whole, the number of non-phone connected devices including cars; health and fitness monitors; smartwatches and other IoT devices reached 126.4 million. CTIA said the figure was up nearly 20 per cent year-on-year from 2016 and 147 per cent from 2013.

For comparison, the number of smartphones in the US increased around 4 per cent between 2016 and 2017, from 261.9 million to 273 million.

CTIA CEO Meredith Attwell Baker said in a statement the numbers reflect the start of the shift from 4G to a 5G era in which everything is connected.

The finding echoes a report from Chetan Sharma Consulting released in February, which observed connected car additions outpaced phone subscriber additions in the US for the first time ever in 2017.

AT&T IoT chief Chris Penrose recently told Mobile World Live the operator’s telematics division is thriving, connecting 1.5 million vehicles each quarter.

Other metrics
The CTIA report also tracked usage trends, including an increase in mobile data use from 3.87 GB per smartphone per month in 2016 to an average of 5GB in 2017. All told, CTIA said US mobile customers consumed a record 15.7 trillion megabytes of mobile data in 2017, up 14 per cent from 2016 and nearly four-times the amount used in 2014.

The number of cell sites used to carry all of this information also increased 5 per cent year on year from 308,334 in 2016 to 323,448 in 2017, CTIA said.