A Slow Climb from Wireless' Dark Ages

The U.S. badly trails its data-crazy First World peers. Here's what has to happen before Americans can go beyond gabbing

Each month, Europeans send as many as 5 billion short text messages from their cell phones. In Ireland alone, 4.3 million messages are sent per day, even though the country's total population is 3.5 million. In Japan, wireless customers send photos and e-mail to friends and family through leading wireless carrier NTT DoCoMo's popular iMode service. In Canada, consumers are increasingly using their phones for interactive games. On Feb. 4, phone company Bell Mobility in Toronto reported cell-phone gaming now accounts for half of its network traffic, up from 14% last year.

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