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In U.S., SMS Text Messaging Tops Mobile Phone Calling

2 minute read | September 2008

The typical U.S. mobile subscriber sends and receives more SMS text messages than telephone calls, according to research released Monday by Nielsen Mobile. 

During the second quarter of 2008, a typical U.S. mobile subscriber placed or received 204 phone calls each month.  In comparison, the average mobile customer sent or received 357 text messages per month — a 450% increase over the number of text messages circulated monthly during the same period in 2006.

Time PeriodAverage Number of

Monthly Calls*

Average Number of

Monthly Text Messages*

Qtr 1, 200619865
Qtr 2, 200621679
Qtr 3, 200622185
Qtr 4, 2006213108
Qtr 1, 2007208129
Qtr 2, 2007228172
Qtr 3, 2007226193
Qtr 4, 2007213218
Qtr 1, 2008207288
Qtr 2, 2008204357
Source: The Nielsen Company (January 1, 2006 to June 30, 2008)
*Note: Data includes U.S. wireless subscribers only.

U.S. teens (ages 13 to 17) had the highest levels of text messaging in Q2 2008, sending and receiving an average of 1,742 text messages per month.  In comparison, teens took part in an average of 231 mobile phone calls per month, during the same time period.

Age GroupAverage Number of

Monthly Calls*

Average Number of

Monthly Text Messages*

All Subscribers204357
Ages 12 & Under137428
Ages 13-172311,742
Ages 18-24265790
Ages 25-34239331
Ages 35-44223236
Ages 45-54193128
Ages 55-6414538
Ages 65+9914
Source: The Nielsen Company (January 1, 2006 to June 30, 2008)
*Note: Data includes U.S. wireless subscribers only.

Nielsen tracks billing activity through an opt-in panel of more than 50,000 personally liable, postpaid U.S. mobile lines across the top four carriers, AT&T, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless.

Read more about text messaging trends in the U.S. in the November issue of Nielsen’s “Consumer Insight” online newsletter.

Read coverage of Nielsen’s findings in The New York Times, Wired, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cellular-news.com, Gearlog, and on CNET.com.