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Half of American teenagers and young adults will own a mobile phone by 2004.

Just 11 million Americans aged 10 to 24 currently have one of the gadgets, but this number is expected to rise to 43 million in the next four years, according to Arizona-based research company Cahners In-Stat Group.

The growth will likely be in pre-paid mobile services -it is notoriously hard for this group to gain a phone with a contract due to strict credit history rules in the US.

The report also reckons that three out of four kids will use a mobile by 2004 - often borrowed from parents keen to keep track of their offspring.

The mobile phone craze in general has also taken off later in the US than in Europe due to cross-state charges and the fact that users have to pay to receive calls. Also, WAP is a foreign word to many Americans.

According to the report, the youth sector is the fastest growing area of the US mobile phone market, and most buyers will be non-college attending 18-24-year-olds. ®

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