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U.S. cell usage soars

CHICAGO – American mobile phone users are talking, texting and surfing the Web more than ever, according to new data from CTIA, the association for the U.S. wireless industry.

The CTIA’s latest semiannual industry survey showed that in the last half of 2009, consumers used more than 1.1 trillion minutes, up 38 billion from the same period in 2008. That amounts to 6.1 billion minutes per day. Consumers also sent almost 5 billion text messages per day in the last half of 2009.

In its news release, CTIA did not offer a comparative figure for text messaging. But the association did say that the number of multimedia messages – those that contain a picture or video – more than doubled on the year.

Some politicians and technology experts have criticized wireless carriers for text message charges. In June, Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., noted that from 2006 to 2008, the price of sending and receiving a text message among the four largest cell phone carriers increased by 100 percent, from 10 to 20 cents per message.