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AT&T: Data-Only Plans for Phones Coming by 2014



AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has said that data-only plans for phones could arrive within the next 24 months.

According to Yahoo!, Stephenson made the remark at the Sanford Bernstein investor conference in New York saying that he’d “be surprised if, in the next 24 months, we don’t see people in the market place with data-only plans.”

Stephenson also says that these data-only plans are “inevitable.”

He did not specifically say whether or not AT&T would be offering such plans in the future.

If AT&T or another carrier were to introduce such plans, phone calls and text messages would be bundled into the plan as data. As of right now, voice and texting are separate things when it comes to how carriers like AT&T bill customers.

Right now, many users use their smartphone like a computer away from a computer. Phones can now pull up movies on Netflix, browse the web, and stream music, just to name a few use cases.

AT&T has apparently seen a drop in the monthly amount of minutes used for calling and services like Apple’s iMesssage and Facebook are quickly rendering text messaging obsolete.

So it’s clear that there is a growing market for this type of data-only plan, it’s just a matter of when carriers will decide to make the shift.

Speaking of a shift, AT&T and Verizon are going to be introducing shared data plans this summer which will allow users to share from a bucket of data.

When that plan goes into place, Verizon will slowly start killing off unlimited data for its smartphone and tablet users.

T-Mobile, a competitor, has ruled out offering shared data plans.



  1. dstrauss

    06/02/2012 at 6:47 am

    Can you spell GOUGE! Stephenson is already on record about how can’t sleep at night worrying about revenue streams “stolen” by services like Facetime and iMessage. Wait until HE gets to METER what data your voice calls absorb. And if you think a text message will only pull 160 bytes from your data stream, think again. This is AT&T’s holy grail – obscure metered usage and they control the meter. Remember Pesci and Rock in Lethal Weapon: “They XXXX you with the cell phone. They love dropped calls because they can charge you that first minute again…”

    Instead of raining on each other’s parade constantly, its about time for Apple and Samsung to invest in a common WiFi network for smartphone traffic and cut out the leaches at AT&T and Verizon.

    • 7rashcan

      07/13/2012 at 2:58 pm

      I can’t agree more; but I’d like to elaborate/vent a little..

      Seriously, eff AT&T, Verizon, and every single cell phone company that exists. For years, I’ve been telling my friends and family that cell phone minutes and text messages will become obsolete and rarely used as newer, cheaper, and infinitely better technologies come into existence via a data connection and are discovered by the non-computer-geek, average consumer. This will equate to a loss of revenue for these shady companies with their current cell phone plans. A data connection is the only thing you need for phone calls, texting, video chat, web browsing, and even GPS (not super accurate but good enough; besides, my $50 pawn-shop-Garmin works better than the best GPS enabled phone out there), and they know it.

      Bookmark this page – Mark these words – Come back in two years:
      These dildos will happily bend you over, take money out of your brown starfish, and then tell you that they deserved it with a smile on their face. They do it today (text message plans) and they’ll do it tomorrow. These companies will raise the cost of data plans, throttle data speeds (“throttling” really means that your device will download slower than a 56k modem from 1996), and propagate claims that they’re doing so in order improve their networks and compensate for an increased data load; which -don’t get me wrong- will be partly true. But the raise in cost and throttling will be unwarranted and done so in order to compensate for the inevitable loss of profits from cell phone minutes and text messaging. This, my friend, I can guarantee you.

      Text messaging plans are the internal cash cows of these companies and they’re dieing. How much does your text message plan cost? 200 messages for $5? 1500 messages for $15? Maybe you don’t have a text message plan and are paying $0.20 per message? Isn’t it funny how, before 2008, a text message without a plan would only cost $0.10? Yep, that’s right, they -literally- doubled that. What do you think they’ll do with their data plans? “Yeah, but $0.20 per message is without a message plan!”, you might interject.. True, but you’re missing the point of the big picture. So here’s another question: Where, in what state, country, or even on what life supporting planet, does the cost of dated technology, specifically the “dated” technology that is older than most of the millions of people that use it every day, increase with time? You get it yet? There it is.. And I didn’t even have to tell you. Now you get the point. Why did all of these companies do this in lock-step? That’s right; cold hearted and lifeless corporate greed. And yet another perfect example of when competing companies come together and set a fixed price on something. Do you remember when the big oil tycoon companies did that? It still strikes me as an odd thing when the media and people around me mention how great it is that gas prices dropped $0.10. But I guess it is what it is and people get accustomed to walking around with a Subway footlong up their O-ring. I think it’s sad. A few years ago, it was estimated that a single text message costs a cell phone company $0.003. A cost -to these companies- that has -decreased- over time. Using this old company cost estimate and comparing it to the $0.01 people pay per message for a 1500/$15 message plan, this equates to a 333% increase in company profits. Would you pay $12.50 for a $3.75 gallon of milk? Why not? That’s what you’re doing with a text message plan.

      In light of the future, these companies probably already make more than enough money in order to support the growing demand of data plans. In 2011 alone, the CEOs of both AT&T and Verizon made $20+ million in salaries and stock options. This doesn’t even include previous years or the payouts that the top tier cronies of these companies received, which is also in the millions. I don’t have a problem with people that make loads of money. As long as they do something that impacts the world in a positive way, then they deserve it. Some examples: Bill Gates – As crappy and fragmented as the Windows OS is, it still changed the way how most people do everything. Bill Gates is still doing great work over in 3rd World countries too. Steve Jobs – Yeah, Bill copied the computer idea.. But at least he revolutionized what a smartphone should be. You can’t argue with it. Every smartphone out there is just an enhancement of what the original iPhone was. And the person/company that finds a cure for cancer or aids, they should automatically win every lottery in every state. But these cell phone business men are not special. In fact, they are useless, annoying middle men decorated with a candy covered shell with icing on top. These companies don’t own cell phone towers, they lease bandwidth from them. They don’t even own the servers that your voicemail is stored on that you can so easily access with your phone. You don’t believe me? Call Verizon right now and tell Tech Support that you (or your mom that doesn’t understand how to operate a phone) accidentally deleted an important voicemail and that you really need it back. They’ll tell you that it’s gone and that there’s nothing that they can do about it. Reply with the following: “Well, don’t you guys have a recycle bin or a database or something where deleted voicemails go in case you wanted to get it back?” Verizon Tech Support will then say something along the lines of: “Well, we actually don’t own the voicemail servers. They’re all controlled by third party companies.” Boom. Tell me I’m wrong. Cell phone companies are just middle men for your connection to a cell phone tower in as much the same way that a grocery store is the middle man between you and that dairy farmer where you bought a $12.50 gallon of milk from. The dairy farmer didn’t charge you $12.50, the grocery store did.

      Like I said, these business men are not special. But in a sense, they are somewhat of an anomaly that epitomizes what is wrong with our country today. These people have absolutely no qualms when it comes to charging someone an arm, leg, and even the tip of their penis for something that costs them next to nothing. Services that revolve around advances in technology have historically become cheaper. But these guys won’t tell you that. Instead, they’ll increase prices and gladly shake the remaining hand on the remaining arm you have left, watch you bounce away on one leg, and if they see that dildo sliding out, I promise you that they’ll kick it back in. Trust me, they’ll find a way to kick it back in.

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