Wireless Companies Hope To Cash In By Pushing Everyone Into Unlimited Voice Plans

Since the iPhone ushered in the smartphone era in 2007, the average wireless subscriber is making fewer and shorter voice calls — resulting in a nearly 20% drop in average monthly minutes. But rather than give consumers the option to dial-down to smaller-tier voice plans, the titans of wireless are looking to give everyone an unlimited amount of talk.

The Wall Street Journal reports that voice plans currently account for about 2/3 of a wireless customer’s bill, even though customers are turning more frequently to data, texting and messaging services for their communication needs.

So rather than lose revenue by allowing customers to switch to voice plans with fewer minutes/month, the carriers will eventually shift everyone into one monthly plan that covers any number of calls.

“The industry’s definitely moving towards unlimited,” AT&T Mobility Chief Executive Ralph de la Vega said in a recent interview. “Especially as more people adopt smartphones that have voice capabilities over the Internet, segmented voice plans will become less relevant.”

T-Mobile USA CEO Philipp Humm echoed this sentiment: “It’s more important to offer a complete solution to consumers which is really, truly unlimited… The new world is a completely unlimited, worry-free world.”

About 4 out of 5 T-Mobile customers are already on the unlimited talk plan, but we wonder how many of those people could be saving $30/month by switching to the company’s 500 minute plan.

Verizon Wireless’ VP for product development says, “There are limits to what you can do with the voice product… It makes sense to look at the pricing.”

Reps for all the major carriers tell the Journal that no final decision has been made about when a shift to unlimited-only could happen.

We recommend that you take a close look at your current wireless voice plan to see if you’re getting the most out of the minutes you are allotted each month. If you are under-utilizing It may be worth switching now to a lower-tier plan. At the very least, you’d save money until they switch everyone over to unlimited. At best, your less-expensive plan would be grandfathered in what switch does eventually occur.

Talking Less, Paying More for Voice [WSJ.com]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.