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Introduction to the Wireless Industry, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

Wireless communications, including such fields as mobile entertainment, RFID, mobile banking and cellphone service, continues to be one of the hottest of the world’s industrial sectors.  There were approximately 9.1 billion global wireless communications subscriptions by the end of 2022, according to Plunkett Research estimates. (Since some people have more than one subscription, the number of individual subscribers is significantly lower.) 
The latest smartphones feature a dizzying array of advanced features.  In addition, smartphones and tablets are internet-capable, typically able to take full advantage of high-speed access on 4G networks (and, to a growing extent, newer 5G networks).  This means that small, lightweight smartphones and tablets can do most of the work of a standard desktop PC.  Consumers love the flexibility and capability of smartphones, and by some estimates spend an average of three hours per day using them in the U.S.  When considering this development, it is important not to overlook the way that smartphones have disrupted traditional business sectors.  For example, thanks to the powerful cameras built into smartphones, the number of photos taken by consumers has soared at an astonishing rate, while sales of traditional cameras have plummeted.
Plunkett Research estimated that there were 390.3 million mobile wireless connections in the U.S. by the end of 2022.  Total U.S. wireless service company revenues were about $310.0 billion during 2022, according to Plunkett Research estimates. 
By 2022, 88% of U.S. cellphone users were on smartphones, according to Plunkett Research estimates, compared to only 61% in early 2013. 
Consolidation of wireless service providers has been a strong trend worldwide over recent years.  Sprint and competitor T-Mobile completed a merger on April 1, 2020. 
China is the world’s largest cellular market.  China Mobile Ltd. is China’s largest carrier with 975.0 million subscriptions as of December 2022.  China Unicom is second with 861.7 million.  4G connections were dominant in China by 2017, and 5G posted rapid growth beginning in 2020. 
In India, the largest carrier is Airtel, with 491.0 million subscribers.  In second place is Reliance Jio, at 430.2 million, which was launched by the giant industrial conglomerate Reliance Industries India.  Reliance’s Jio committed to a $25 billion, multiyear investment in 5G systems, starting in 2022.
Mobile banking is one of the most popular services for cellphone users in the emerging world, as wireless innovation is bringing banking services to remote areas for the first time ever, while sophisticated banking apps are extremely popular in developed nations such as the U.S. and Japan.  FinTech companies have brought mobile financial services to a new level worldwide, with innovative ways to make digital payments, investments, banking transactions and funds transfers.
The wireless sector incorporates a great deal more than cellphone services, ranging from satellite-based communications to vast wireless Wi-Fi networks in corporate and public spaces.  There is no end in sight to the rapid acceleration of wireless.  RFID equipment prices are plummeting while adoption is growing on a global basis—this technology is vital for tracking physical inventories using digital methods.  Practical uses for smartphones are growing endlessly.  Applications for remote wireless sensors of all types (often referred to as the Internet of Things or IoT) are about to soar as technologies improve and costs decline.  The most important wireless industry sectors for future growth and advancing technologies include self-driving vehicles, management of “smart cities,” sports, entertainment, energy management and monitoring, advertising and health care (including personal health monitoring).

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