Cell phone owners are using their phones to make calls less and less often as other communication options (e.g. texting, email, IM, social networks) become more popular. This is causing these users to switch to less expensive voice plans with fewer minutes. The carriers see this as a long term loss in revenue as more users switch to data capable smartphones. To combat this the carriers are considering doing away with tiered voice plans and only offering one unlimited calling plan. This plan would, of course, be more expensive than the low end plans currently offered.
My Take: AT&T’s chief executive Randall Stephenson said that “he wouldn’t be surprised if some carrier pops up in the next two years with cellphone plans that cover only data, no voice.” I would be surprised if we didn’t see this. Actually, I expect Google or Apple to provide such a network. Voip apps, like Skype and Google Voice, are already widely used on smartphones. Why do you need a pricey voice plan if you can use a Voip service with the data you’re already paying for?
The carriers know that future is data only, but that requires changing their established (and profitable!) business models and they are fighting to prevent that much the same way the music and movie industries have fought changes the digital world has brought to them. The future is here, carriers. Get used to it!
But until then we customers will have to pay higher rates.