Over the past 30 years, the wireless networks and cell phones have experienced spectacular and robust growth. Think back to the late 1980s and early 1990s. Cell phones used to weigh 2 pounds, were almost a foot long, and only functional for voice communications. Fast forward to 2013, where cell phones now weigh less than 3 ounces, can fit in your back pocket, and you can use them to Instagram photos, tweet to your best friend, and update your Facebook status; but did you know that Americans benefit from the best mobile products and services in the world?
Firstly, we have awesome networks and connections: 98% of the U.S. population has access to 3G technology. 85% of all new high-speed connections between the mid 2010 and mid 2011 were wireless. In addition, wireless networks have boosted our economy. Continued 4G wireless network investments could mean $73-$151 billion in GDP growth and provide anywhere around 371,000-771,000 jobs by 2016. Currently, 285,561 cell sites service U.S. consumers.
Secondly, the hardware used for cell phones is unique and one-of-a-kind. Today’s consumers have more computing power that what was available to put a man on the moon. The early PC only featured four colors and 320*200 pixels. Today’s Smartphone now features 16 million colors and 1136*460 pixels! Just five years ago, the Smartphone camera averaged .3 megapixels but now it averages 16 megapixels. In addition, today’s average phones can carry 4,000 songs, 2,000 photos, and 20 movies.
Thirdly, the content on Smartphones are like no other. As of September 2012, there were more than 2.7 millions apps on more than 11 different operating systems. The “app economy” employs 519,000 workers and that number is scheduled to skyrocket over the next couple of years.
Lastly, the Smartphone operates like minicomputers providing Americans with Internet access at anytime and anyplace, in addition to providing environmental benefits. Wireless data traffic is so common that its growth is expected to grow at 66% a year for the next five years. Over 1 billion people use Smartphones worldwide. Americans used more than 1.1 trillion megabytes (MB) of data from July 2011-2012. Smart grids in wireless technology could save the equivalent of greenhouse gas emissions from about 70 million passenger vehicles or the energy use of 30 million U.S. homes. Wireless technology can help reduce the nearly 40 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. For every 5,000 cell phones recycled, 11,000 kilowatt hours of energy are saved. Wireless soil moisture monitors could save up to 6 trillion gallons of water per year.
These facts are astonishing and serve as a reminder that there are economic, environmental, and social benefits for minority cell phone users. Studies have consistently found that blacks and Hispanics own and use cell phones to access the Internet at a higher rate than whites. In addition, minorities are more likely to use their cell phones to access the Web, play games, watch videos, and use social media sites than whites. Since minorities are the top consumers of cell phone usage, we must encourage our communities to take advantage of the additional benefits. Those benefits may include investing in application development and wireless technology businesses, encouraging individuals to pursue careers in technology, and properly recycling their cell phones to save energy and reduce greenhouse emissions.