Everyone has a cell phone.

Well, not quite everyone. A recent report from the Federal Communications Commission shows that as of July 2006 there were 215.1 million cell phone subscribers in the 50 ...
by | March 6, 2007

Cells_1 Well, not quite everyone. A recent report from the Federal Communications Commission shows that as of July 2006 there were 215.1 million cell phone subscribers in the 50 states and D.C., compared to 214.7 million U.S. residents (age 20 or older) a year earlier.

But, of course, those pesky young people love their cell phones and probably represent a sizable chunk of that 215.1 million. Pretty soon, however, the title of this post will literally be true. The number of cell phone subscribers has gone up by 25-30 million annually for at least the last six years. At some point, we'll have to reach the limit of our cell phoniness, but there's no sign it's happening yet.

In at least two states -- New Jersey and Delaware -- cell phones subscribers already outnumber cell phone-aged people (if nine year olds have cell phones, I don't want to know about it). How is that possible? Probably because people have separate work and personal cells, although I can imagine an obsessed New Jerseyan with five different phones, to be in everyone's in-calling network.

In Washington, D.C., there are actually 1.5 cell phone subscribers for every resident. I assume many of those are work cells, although it could be suburbanites with D.C. area codes too. In the latest data, West Virginia has surpassed Vermont as the state with the fewest cell phones per capita at .53.

This trend matters to governments for lots of reasons, from lost revenue to difficulty tracking 911 calls. Plus, sooner or later a public official will take the podium to deliver a major speech, only to have his or her cell phone go off.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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