U.S. Wireless Penetration Near 100% at end of 2010 – No Surprise Mobile Carriers Not Growing As They Once Did

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Information Week reports that:

AT&T, Verizon Subscriber Growth Falling

It notes that AT&T’s new contract customer signup in the first quarter of 2010 is 43% lower than the same quarter a year ago. Verizon’s new contract customer signup for Q1 2010 was much lower than it has been for the past several years.

This isn’t surprising if you look at the CTIA’s (formerly Cellular Telephone Industry Associating – wireless telecom trade group) own data for U.S. Wireless Penetration.

CTIA Wireless Quick Facts

I took the data for they provide to create the line chart above. You can see that wireless penetration growth has been nearly perfectly linear since 1995 when it was 13%. At the end of 2009, wireless penetration in the U.S. was 91%. While it is unlikely this will actually be 100%, a simple linear regression on the available data indicates that it will be at its maximum around the end of this calendar year. It is difficult to grow when 100% of the population already has your product.