Is It Time For Wireless Companies To Offer Data-Only Plans?

When was the last time you saw someone under the age of 21 willingly make a phone call when texting or e-mailing was an option? And reports show that free messaging apps are growing in popularity. So at what point will society just give up on voice and text services and go data-only?

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

Unfortunately, writes the Wall Street Journal, if a major wireless company were to offer data-only plans, it would have to give up a substantial chunk of revenue lost from the customers who ditch profitable voice and text plans. This likely means higher data costs. So switching to data-only could end up costing you about as much as it costs you for data, voice and texting.

As we mentioned earlier this year, AT&T is considering a plan that would shift some of the cost of data-hogging apps on to the people that make them, thus allowing the wireless company from having to raise data rates.

Of course, with most carriers having ditched truly unlimited data plans, any data-only plan would also be capped and likely have hefty overage fees. Customers who drop voice service and switch to data-devouring VoIP services will need to pay extra attention to their usage to avoid bill shock.

Since Randy Stephenson predicts data-only is about two years off, we wanted to get a sense of whether people want this option now:

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