AT&T CEO predicts data-only wireless plans within two years

Randall Stephenson iPhone

As detailed by CBS News this week, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson indicated that wireless customers may only require a data plan by mid-2014. Stephenson specifically stated “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.” In this scenario, customers wouldn’t sign up for voice or texting plans as voice could be routed through a data plan with a service like Skype or Apple’s Facetime. There are already a number of third-party texting applications available to smartphone users as well. According to company management, AT&T has seen a decrease in the average number of minutes used per month, thus fewer people are using their smartphone to place voice calls. 

htc one xl reviewStephenson sees this shift as a gradual change over the next two years and doesn’t forsee a rush of customers that will be requesting this option immediately. He drew an analogy to this process by comparing it to the transition from fixed landlines to cellular telephones. AT&T is already planning to roll out support for data sharing over a variety of devices, but a transition to data-only plans could turn out to be a lucrative option for AT&T over the next five years.

Similar to how cable companies bundle television service, high-speed Internet access and landlines together, AT&T could use a a more aggressive bundling package to entice people to sign up for more than just a data plan a few years from now. The company could also charge significantly more for data-only plans or simply extend the contract period when a customer purchases a new smartphone with a data-only plan.

Stephenson also mentioned that content providers on the Web have approached AT&T in regards to paying the wireless provider a specific amount of money each month to allow customers to access the content provider site without going against the data limit on the customer’s data plan. This would probably be most advantageous for retailers that want customers to shop on mobile sites, but don’t want customers to avoid the site based on data limits.

However, this program would likely place smaller companies with fewer resources at a disadvantage. For instance, if Amazon decided to pay AT&T for this concept, customers may be more likely to check Amazon first on a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet when comparison shopping for a product. In regards to the program, Stephenson stated “It’s not us going out and mandating this. The content guys are coming in asking for it. If you don’t allow those kinds of models to flourish, you’re going to inhibit the potential of these services.

AT&T is also continuing with their planned 4G LTE data rollout as wireless customers in Cleveland got access to the upgraded network this week. AT&T had already started the 4G upgrade in Akron and Canton, Ohio during April 2012 and plans to cover all of Ohio by the end of the year. The company plans to reach forty major markets by the end of the year and will continue upgrading the network around the country over 2013.

Mobile

Taking shots in the dark with Night Sight, the Pixel’s newest photo feature

The Google Pixel range has always been the home of some of the mobile world's best phone cameras. That performance is now getting even better with the introduction of the low-light Night Sight mode.
Cars

VW will use Siri as the designated driver for its connected car party

Volkswagen of America added Apple's Siri to help drivers control and interact with their cars. Owners can customize voice commands to tell Siri to change access settings such as interior climate, vehicle lock status, and fuel checks.
Gaming

Everyone’s favorite Pokémon turns gumshoe in ‘Detective Pikachu’ trailer

The first Detective Pikachu trailer has arrived, and it looks like a video game movie could actually be good? Voiced by Ryan Reynolds, Pikachu is undeniably cute in what is shaping up to be a family-friendly buddy comedy.
Emerging Tech

Virtual newscaster wants to know: Is this the real me or just a fantasy?

China's state news agency introduced a virtual newsreader. The voices, lip movements, and expressions of real news presenters are used to synthesize the virtual readers. The agency says virtual readers will cut production costs.
Smart Home

How’s your Spanish, Alexa? Some Amazon Echo devices pick up a new language

Amazon's Alexa voice assistant and Echo devices are now available for customers in Mexico. Alexa has been customized for the Mexican market with local knowledge, a new voice, and support for the Spanish dialect spoken in Mexico.
Product Review

Mediocre battery and a big notch slight Google's otherwise perfect Pixel phone

Google’s Pixel 3 XL has two big flaws: The gigantic notch on the front, and mediocre battery life. That being said, this is the best Android experience you can find in a smartphone today.
Mobile

Netflix is testing a cheap mobile-only subscription tier in some markets

Netflix is trying to reach potential subscribers in emerging markets. To that end, the company has begun rolling out a cheaper, mobile-only subscription tier, which comes at around $4 per month -- half the price of the Basic subscription…
Mobile

Upcoming Galaxy S10 may support 8K video and have Neural Processing Unit

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.
Music

Here's our head-to-head comparison of Pandora and Spotify

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.
Mobile

Samsung will reportedly announce its folding smartphone at MWC in February

Samsung has been showcasing bendable display tech for a few years and now a folding smartphone might finally arrive. The Galaxy X, or perhaps the Galaxy F, may be the company's first example. Here's everything we know about it.
Mobile

Check out 30 of the best iPhone games you need to be playing

The iPhone has some of our favorite games available for any mobile platform. Here are the best iPhone games for every big-name genre, whether you're into puzzles, strategy, or something else entirely.
Mobile

Text messages are disappearing on Pixel 3s, but a fix is on the way

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are arguably the best Android phones out there right now -- but they aren't perfect. Users have reported a number of issues and problems related to the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. Here's how to fix them.
Mobile

Get ready for more V-series phones: LG trademarks names up to the V90

It looks like we should get ready for more LG V-series phones. LG has trademarked names for the LG V50 all the way up to the LG V90. We may have to wait some time before we see these phones; the next LG flagship is expected to be the LG G8.
Home Theater

What is MHL, exactly, and how does it work with your TV?

There are more ways to mirror your smartphone or tablet to your TV than you might think. Check out our rundown of MHL for everything you need to know about the wired protocol and its myriad uses.