AT&T CEO sees a future without voice and text, only data

We are definitely moving away from voice and texts and replacing them with data. Reaching our monthly allowance has become a feat due to services like Google Voice, Vonage and Skype, among others. And though these can definitely save money, our major concern simply tends to be convenience. So how will the industry change to adapt to our new habits? AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson believes that users could be getting data-only plans within the next 2 years.

“I’ll be surprised if, in the next 24 months, we don’t see people in the market place with data-only plans. I just think that’s inevitable.” – Randall Stephenson, AT&T CEO

While some people have been making assumptions on such statement, we simply don’t know how such a system would work. Carriers are still making most of their money with voice and text fees. This is something that is quickly changing, though. I, for one, use no texts from the carrier (I use Google Voice) and usually end up with about 80% of my minutes untouched (the 20% is mostly used by others in my family plan). But boy do I use my GB’s – I would say I am ready to move to a data-only system.

But while that sounds like a plausible option, these services can have their failures and glitches. The apps are not always the best. I still like to have my carrier minutes and texts there, just in case. There is another option available, though. As more customers start using data, the price of owning an internet-connected device will increase as voice and text messages become less necessary. This could allow the carriers to possible just charge more for internet and treat voice and text messages as simply another form of data.

We are already close to using VoLTE (Voice over LTE), and text messages can easily become a data service. Not to mention that T-Mobile is already doing something similar with WiFi calling. The future really could be a data-only world.

Let’s be clear about this, though. AT&T did not announce it had any plans of this yet. This was one man’s opinion (even if a significant one) and view on where the market is going. As for our thoguhts, these are nothing but speculations, and we really don’t see things turning that way in a very long time. But having a data-only plan for those that want to use Google Voice and Skype? That sounds very enticing.

What do you guys say? Are you ready for a data-only plan? And if you are like me, and are already doing this, what are your favorite apps and services for voice calls and messages?

[Via: Mashable]

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  • Chris

    It’s just inevitable!

  • Symbolic VFX

    He has always been an idiot.

  • David Decker

    I was ready for data plans but if they continue to throttle data @ 3GB might not be worth it. Granted I am grandfathered on the unlimited for ATT. (This is for HSPA+) If I switch to LTE phone I think its 5GB so I will have to see how fast 5GB get used up. (should they allow me to keep the Unlimited Data).

    • Edgar Cervantes

      They should allow you to keep your unlimited data. I have switched between 3G and 4G phones (on Verizon) over and over and they treat it the same. They say it is just an addition to your data and your plan isn’t touched.

  • Pkmmte

    i often leave my data connection off to save battery. i rarely use any minutes but i do use over 25k texts per month and 2gb of data even if its turned off most of the time. will carriers eventually bring bacm unlimited data if the only-data future happens to be true

    • Aaron Peromsik

      I doubt it. Battery life question is a good one. Another is how well the VOIP phone calls survive when you are moving between towers. Carriers work hard to make sure voice calls don’t miss a beat but data connections may not be quite so seamless. Anyone have experience with this? There’s also the fact that some carriers have roaming agreements for voice but not data.

  • MikeCiggy

    I wouldn’t want to be forced on the other applications. I however think if they simply start putting calls over data and texts over data a data only plan would be feasible.

    You would no longer have a limit to minutes or text messages but would have a limit on data as a whole. Phone calls would use very small amounts of mb’s depending on time of course and I can’t imagine each text message using much data per but after 10,000 texts it would add up. The data plan prices would have to reflect on this type of change.

    • Edgar Cervantes

      What if they started doing the things that they do for voice? Unlimited data during nights and weekends? Maybe even rollover data?… THEN we would be talking.

      • MikeCiggy

        Rollover data? Is anyone else drooling over that idea?

        Coupled with data-only plans and your native phone and text application functioning via data. Sign me up. Although technology may not allow this yet. We would need 3G to be as reliable as 2g has been for voice and text first.

      • Montisaquadeis

        Since I have unlimited everything including data thanks to being on boost mobile and it will still be unlimited after they add the 2.5gb its going going to be throttled data instead of me having to pay for amounts past 2.5gb and since my speed is far lower then the throttled speed I dont really have to worry.

        On top of that I have sevral people that dont have data plans and dont have internet or fully working pcs at home that could use the internet so I still need texts and voice myself.

        • Laarree Miiller

          “I dont really have to worry” Not much purpose with this response but to plug a limited use carrier that will eventually change their plans…they all do.

  • wyldtek

    I do this now by using a $25 tablet plan on my phone. I use Google Voice for texts. I rarely talk on the phone but if I do its usually at home using Gmail calling. On the rare occasion I make a call from my phone I use GrooveIP.

    • MikeCiggy

      Because this is a formal writing environment. Comment deleted.

      • Tommy

        How do you get “Your” and “idea’s” both wrong… wow.

    • Brian S.

      can u call phone numbers over your phone with gTalk? I thought you could onyl call someone who had gTalk open on their android or desktop as well

      • wyldtek

        I use the GrooveIP app

  • Keith Herman

    We shall call this the “no shit” of the week. Anyone that’s at all tech savvy makes calls and texts over data only now anyway. Google voice? Textfree with voice? Nice job captain obvious.

  • YamiYaiba

    I can’t get Google Voice to work on Verizon, so I dislike this idea right now. Only 2 of my friends/family are on Skype with any consistency too, further souring the idea on me.

    • InyRules

      why can’t Google Voice work on Verizon?

      • YamiYaiba

        Dunno. I try to set it up, it says my carrier doesn’t support it. I can sometimes get visual voicemail to work, but that’s all

        • Laarree Miiller

          You are doing something wrong. The VVM says it isn’t supported by the carrier, but not the Google Voice…I have been using it for I think 2 years on a bunch of different droid phones.

        • InyRules

          I used this method to get it to work:

          “…dial this on your phone: *71 [Your GV #] then hit Send — (*71-###-###-#### then Send)”

  • Daniel Tiberius

    Yeah I was hoping to get this for my Galaxy Note but they don’t allow it yet. I never talk on the phone and use google voice, so this is the present for me, not the future.

  • Weezer

    Why you won’t see using AT&T anytime soon…….


    I cant wait. Of course, they’ll still price rape us. I personally probably use about 5 mins of talking per month and I could easily live with a small data plan since I’m around wifi a ton. As for texting… I dont see how I could ditch that yet.

    • lynyrd65

      Google Voice

  • Christopher Williams

    As much as he tries, he’s hardly a visionary. I have this plan on my iPad currently. Nothing groundbreaking here.

  • godrilla

    you would need at least 10 gig allowances per week, which currently costs $65 and up depends on carrier and that’s with a minute plan, they will Jack up prices even more.

    • godrilla

      * per month

  • Jeffrey Evans

    I maintain a PBX and see firsthand that VoIP is the future. Not a fan of it myself but the industry is pushing hard in that direction. Hard to say when it becomes the dominant process though.

  • Steve Albright

    He still looks like he is going to steal my money.

  • No_Nickname90

    I’d use this. Google Voice is pretty much talk and text. But what about MMS? I kinda send those quite often and GV doesn’t have MMS. It sends an email. LoL!!

    So are wii going to go back to emails? =.P
    I also can see this happening too. But the data capping will HAVE to go. I mean, if you run out of data, you run out of… everything. LoL!!

  • Joe

    Maybe I’m living in the stone age. I use the new Razr, but I hate Skype, and I’ve never used Google voice. I text all the time and never get near my data cap of 4GB.

  • Scott Tompkins

    You mean someone actually got around to reading what the 4g spec was SUPPOSED to do? ;)

  • Carl Rood

    He didn’t say voice & text plans were going away any time soon, just that some people will have converted to all data within 2 years. For the forseeable future there will still be a market for plain vanilla phones. My parents and some of my siblings have no need or desire for smartphones or data plans. They use their phones sparingly. My parents keep their’s off most of the time and only use them to call out from the road.

    Of course, this could still be eventually migrated to all data. They just wouldn’t know it because the phone OS will make it look the same. Provided VOIP call quality is sufficient on a consistent basis.

  • Brian S.

    OMG! what a visionary!

    wow, impretty sure this is what the AT&T execs sadi they didnt want. if i remember right the quote went something like “Google thinks they’re going to turn our towers into dumb pipes, we wont let them do that”

  • stromium

    yup !! now its not hard as before , to move DOP (data only plans)..

  • warcaster

    Isn’t there a carrier that offers data-only plans right now?

  • montgoss

    That’s funny, considering AT&T used to offer a data-only plan and dropped it years ago. I was on data-only with Verizon, but had to get minutes when I switched to AT&T 1.5 years ago. Even that plan on Verizon is now restricted such that you have to have a doctor’s note saying you are deaf before they will allow you to get that plan!