A new survey confirms Americans’ reliance on wireless services as a key component enabling them to earn a living, study, and socially communicate.  The online study by McLaughlin & Associates and partnered with Penn Schoen Berland was conducted during May 23-28, 2014 for MyWireless.org and covers likely voters with wireless services. 

Overall, the results show that ninety-four percent of wireless consumers are satisfied with their service.  In addition, ninety-seven percent report at least one wireless phone in their household that is not paid for by an employer – that is a penetration rate that exceeds any year on record for landline services.  In fact, over one-quarter (27%) of those surveyed no longer have a landline phone with another thirty-five percent considering “cutting the cord,” particularly among younger consumers.

According to the survey results, nearly three-quarters (72%) of consumers use a wireless device for work, school or personal management; and two-thirds (67%) of those surveyed reported that not having their wireless service would be a distinct disadvantage for these purposes. 

The results also reveal that Americans rely on wireless services to keep in touch with family, friends, co-workers and retailers.  Eighty- three percent of those surveyed scored wireless service as being “essential” in their everyday life.  This strong degree of dependency was voiced acrossed all demographic groups.  

Compared to broadband Internet (35%), cable and satellite TV (16%) and home landline phone services (10%), cell and smart phone (40%) services were chosen among consumers as most important to have.  Twenty percent of consumers reported not having Internet access with their wireless service, making laptops and desktops still the preferred devices for online access. 

Beyond voice communications, texting (63%) is the next most popular wireless phone feature, followed by taking pictures (52%), Internet access (50%) and e-mail (50%).  Texting has carved itself a niche welcomed by all groups as both a way to communicate quickly and discretely, and its messaging has become an easily assessable alternative to telephony and emails.

Within the applications and features categories, the type of “apps” used most often by wireless consumers are weather (56%), social networking (45%), maps and GPS (43%), banking and finance (36%), as well as for entertainment (35%), news and politics (30%), sports (24%), fitness (12%), and health tracking (11%).  Online fun and games may be the glitter that attracts media coverage, but the wireless communications among family members and co-workers is what helps bonds with acquaintances thrive and what keeps the economy operating.

As wireless service customers look ahead, survey sentiments indicate that consumers want industry development to focus on wireless phone coverage and quality, reinforcing consumer privacy and security and, as always, higher speeds for wireless data.  Their outlook echoes the challenges such as additional spectrum and security where service providers invest so heavily.

In contrast with a constructive agenda for the industry, only twenty-three percent see a constructive role for more government regulations.  Moreover, most consumers have no faith that activist regulators will actually improve their wireless experience; and by a 10 to 1 ratio, they fear that activist regulators will increase the cost of wireless services.  This clearly suggests that consumers are suspicious and would prefer that regulators to go slow when it comes to policymaking.   

In the opinion of the American consumer, wireless services are a strong success story.  It would appear that the challenges ahead are manageable.

Alan Daley and Steve Pociask write for The American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research, a nonprofit educational and research institute.  For more information about the institute, visit www.theamericanconsumer.org.