AT&T CEO Sees Data Service Completely Replacing Voice Plans

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The head of AT&T predicts that the current consumer trend away from wireless voice service will continue to the point that, in just a couple of years, there will be smartphone users who won’t have a voice plan at all.

AT&TRandall Stephenson was speaking at an investor conference when he said, “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.”

He stopped short of saying that AT&T will offer such a plan in the future. At the current time, this wireless carrier requires all its phone customers to have voice service, at least partially because that’s where the company makes a large percantage of its profits.

Data Winning Out Over Voice

In recent years, the amount of time mobile phone users spend talking to other people has declined, while services that use wireless data — Web access, streaming media, etc. — has risen dramatically.

If this trend continues, as Stephenson believes it will, it will reach the point where the occasional voice calls customers make can be taken care of by VoIP apps like Skype, which connect over data networks.

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