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6/5/2012
08:27 PM
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Mobile Carriers Plan To End Budget Voice Plans

Back in the day, people used phones primarily to make voice calls. This is degenerating into a "legacy application," and that's a bad thing for the carriers because they make a lot of money on voice calls. Their solution: Force everyone onto an unlimited minutes plan.

Back in the day, people used phones primarily to make voice calls. But voice is degenerating into a "legacy application," and that's a bad thing for the carriers because they make a lot of money on voice calls. Their solution, as described in a Wall Street Journal article, is to force everyone onto an unlimited minutes plan.

The story does not say there are specific plans yet for such changes, but it quotes executives from major carriers to the effect that such changes are inevitable.

The voice portion of a mobile phone bill is a major part of the customer cost, but a declining part of the usage. CTIA, a trade group for the wireless industry, says that the duration of the average phone call is going down, as is the average number of minutes use per customer.

It was inevitable, with the ascent of smartphones, that other applications would replace the use of voice for communications. E-mail, texting, other instant message services, and social networks are just some of the ways people communicate when in the past they may have made a "phone call." Even to the extent that voice is still used, it is increasingly used over VOIP connections.

To attract more customers carriers have always offered plans with varying numbers of minutes per month, in addition to unlimited voice. The fear is that more and more users, seeing their declining use of voice, will opt for cheaper voice plans. The solution: Eliminate the minutes plans and put everyone on an unlimited voice plan.

The story quotes AT&T Mobility Chief Executive Ralph de la Vega from a recent interview: "The industry's definitely moving towards unlimited... Especially as more people adopt smartphones that have voice capabilities over the Internet, segmented voice plans will become less relevant."

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