AT&T CEO: Data-Only Phone Plans Inevitable

ATT iPhone

In a somewhat surprising admission, AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson, at an investors conference in New York, said that data-only cellphone plans are inevitable, and that he expects them to arrive within the next two years.

While Stephenson didn’t say anything about AT&T offering such a plan, the industry is definitely heading towards a data only direction, and it’s just a matter of time until one carrier or the other gives in.

Stephenson’s words from the conference:

“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.”

Smartphone’s permanent web connectivity has given rise to a lot of alternative media of communication, some of which are much better than the traditional phone calls and text messages. People have in fact demanded data only connections since quite sometime, but till now carriers have only offered such plans for 3G/4G tablets.

Assosicated Press’ report on the event notes that AT&T has been recording a decline in the average number of minutes used per month, presumably due to people using apps like iMessage, Skype, FaceTime over traditional voice calls. In fact, AT&T execs has gone on record saying that iMessage and other similar texting apps are eating into their messaging revenues.

The transition to data only plans would be a difficult one for carriers, since significant portion of their revenues presently come from phone calls and text messages. When the process of transition is underway, carriers might increase data rates to compensate for their loss of revenue from phone calls and texts.

Presently, AT&T is on its way to launch shared data plans which will allow subscribers to share their plan over multiple devices instead of buying a new one for each of them. Although the initiative might reduce the amount a consumer pays, AT&T’s CEO says that the company “is determined to make more money from the plans, not less.”

One of the ways AT&T’s planning to increase its revenue from data is by letting content providers pay for the data consumed on their portals or apps instead of directly charging users. Stephenson says that this idea would be tested next year.

While this might seem like a good idea at first, at least from a consumer standpoint, it would be disastrous for companies and organizations low on capital.

All we hope is that in the quest for compensating for their lost revenues, carriers don’t come up with absurd ideas.

[via Apple Insider]

Also see: AT&T CEO’s only regret is offering unlimited data plan for the iPhone

  • Olaf

    Yea. I believe the first letter in AT&T still stands for @$$h0£€s. Any idea is strictly for their benefit.
    But thanks for sharing iPhonehacks!

  • iOS Me.0.1

    This article is such BS… I gave up my jail broken phone just to be on iOS 5.1.1 so I can at least stick it to AT&T with the iMessage everyone in my family has iPhones so they can suck it easy!

    • Paul

      All iPhones can be jailbroken at 5.1.1 except of course 3G and the original iPhone that does not support firmwares beyond 4.2.1 and 3.1.3 respectively.

  • Naej

    AT&T is more evil than Umbrella Corp. The only thing they care about money and screw the customer !!! If i still havent left att is because of my unlimited data plan ! :(

    • Grime

      I stuck around because of the unlimited data plan, but have since left because unlimited data ain’t what it used to be. I suggest you do the same.

      • Naej

        Yeah I know, AT&T wants to get rid of all Unlimited data plans first they got rid of the plans, Then after 2GB they reduce your speeds later you will see they will come up with a smart move to cancel all still active unlimited contracts. When AT&T’s stock plummet to the ground and learn that the customer has the power it will be to late for them !

  • DonPt

    My “Unlimited Data Plan” gets reduced to half speeds when I go over three gigabytes (pdanet, Internet tethering on the train.)
    I’ve had my data plan since iPhone 3G was out, so I’m only here for that (I’m one of the only people who is grandfathered in in my school).
    AT&T needs to step their game up for their customers, else their stock will drop like Facebook’s.
    Just saying.

  • Grime

    I despise At&t and their business practices. I don’t normally refer people to them, but if you already a customer there’s was or possibly still is a way to upgrade your limited plan to “unlimited”. I don’t remember the steps exactly, but you can do a Google search. You need the first generation iPhone and an early copy of iTunes. What you have to do is sign up through iTunes using the first gen iPhone opting for the unlimited plan. If I remember correctly you get an email confirming the contract. Next you swap out your sim with a 3g capable iPhone, and will do. You’ll receive an email telling you need to upgrade your data plan because you now using 3g instead of 2g. You won’t have the option to change plans online, neither will any At&t operators be of any help. You’ll have to actually go to an At&t store and explain that you want to upgrade your 2g iPhone to a 3g and they’ll gladly upgrade you with no hassles. That’s how it worked out for me, but that was sometime ago. In case you’re wondering, I had a 3GS before they stop offering the unlimited plan. I canceled my plan paid the early termination fee which was a lot less and went to T-Mobile. The iPhone 4 was released so I went back to At&t but they weren’t offering unlimited plans any longer. I used the above mentioned procedure and voilà presto chango a newly grandfathered in unlimited plan. I worked the first time I wouldn’t see why it wouldn’t work now. I guess its quite possible At&t closed the loop hole, but if you own a first gen iPhone or have a friend that does I think its worth the try. Not sure what the policy is for link to other sites, but if you Google ” How to Get Back on AT&T’s Unlimited Data Plan”, you’ll find all the information you need to get the unlimited plan or get it back again. I think there are better options available, but the choice is yours. Good luck.

    • jay

      this trick still work att r co*kSu*kers they try to say i was tethering and took my unlimited plan away. but i won’ the battle back to unlimited

      • Grime

        Glad to hear it. When did you try this method?

  • Kraken

    AT&T decided to steal (expire) my rollover minutes. In a busy month I nearly ran out as a result. Rather than purchase more minutes and reward their behavior, I got talkatone (free google voice calling). Now I’ve degraded my voice plan, and I expect that when I get a 4g phone, I can use talkatone exclusively and I won’t even need a voice plan. Thanks for screwing me and yourself AT&T!