CTIA Sub Numbers: Where are they?

I saw this brief news item a bit earlier in MocoNews that CTIA's president was touting the number of mobile subscribers in the U.S. as being over 243.4 million, representing 81% of the population. There's a whole PDF of stats you can check out on the CTIA site.

I love keeping up with these sorts of stats because I take gleeful joy in pointing them out to my pal Dr. Diego Doval, not because I think the numbers are good or bad or otherwise, but because he just about blows a gasket every time I show him impossibly large mobile subscriber numbers. He starts ranting about population numbers, and the numbers of people in poverty and lots of other things, and it's always a joy to egg him on. This evening though, as I was already knee deep in stats for Mowser, and had my spreadsheet open, when he linked to this page on CensusScope.org showing the general population number breakdowns from the 2000 census, I was actually paying attention enough to look at the numbers.

Here they are, in a simple table, not separated into male/female, but just by age:

Age Population
0-4 19,175,798
5-9 20,549,505
10-14 20,528,072
15-19 20,219,890
20-24 18,964,001
25-29 19,381,336
30-34 20,510,388
35-39 22,706,664
40-44 22,441,863
45-49 20,092,404
50-54 17,585,548
55-59 13,469,237
60-64 10,805,447
65-69 9,533,545
70-74 8,857,441
75-79 7,415,813
80-84 4,945,367
85+ 4,239,587

Now, the population of the U.S. has grown a bit in the 7 years or so since the census, but those numbers are within a decent percentage to use them for analysis. If we add up every person between the ages of 15 and 69, according to that chart (the ones in my mind most likely to have a mobile phone), we get just over 195MM people. Hmmm... That's almost 50 million short of the current subscriber count.

Now, if you take the logical step of assuming that not EVERY person between those ages will have mobile phones (my parents don't even have one between them, for example), the number drops even more. Let's wack off 10%, just for fun... Now we're down to about 180MM people who could potentially have a mobile phone. And yet the sub numbers are at 244MM. Does that mean there are 64MM people out there with more than one subscription?

As I always say to Diego, I never look at these stats without a grain of salt...But I have to say, it's pretty interesting to see the numbers of people at certain age groups and KNOW that many older and younger people just don't have phones, and yet see the sub numbers so drastically outnumber that maximum total... It seems a bit, odd.

What do you think?


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