OMG! Text messaging up sharply in US since 2003: study

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The number of text messages sent in the United States has increased more than 52 times in the six years since 2003, data compiled by the Census Bureau showed Tuesday.

The number of abbreviated messages tapped out on US mobile phones and handheld devices more than doubled almost every year since 2003, when 2.1 billion text messages were sent.

That grew to 4.7 billion the following year, 9.8 billion in 2005, and 18.7 billion the next year, before a steep increase to 48.1 billion rapid-fire thumb-typed messages in 2007.

Between 2007 and 2008, the number of text messages more than doubled again, to 110.4 billion.

The number of mobile phone subscribers was up by 70 percent in the same six-year period, rising from slightly less than 159 million in 2003 to around 270 million last year, according to the US Census Bureau.

The federal agency compiled the data from a semi-annual survey compiled by the CTIA-Wireless Association, a nonprofit representing Internet service providers, manufacturers and wireless data companies.

According to the association's research, the average monthly bill for mobile phone users has hovered around the 50 dollar mark since 2003, which marks a significant savings on the amount Americans used to pay every month to use a mobile phone in 1990, when cellular telephone technology was in its infancy.

Back then, the average monthly bill was nearly 81 dollars.

Texting has spawned an entire lexicon of acronyms and abbreviations including "OMG!" for "Oh my God!" and - popular among kids - "PAW" for "parents are watching."

It has also spawned new ailments, including "Blackberry thumb" - a repetitive strain injury caused by constant texting.

The data are included in the 129th edition of the Census Bureau's annual Statistical Abstract, whose more romantic name is "Uncle Sam's Almanac" and which includes 1,400 tables of social, political and economic facts about the United States and the world.