More and more phone users rely on the Internet to keep connected with others and network carriers need to adapt to this growing trend in order to remain relevant and competitive. That is why AT&T is slowly moving away from plans that revolve around voice calls and text messages towards more data-centric offerings.
The carrier will hardly be alone or first in slowly changing their paradigms and business models. Verizon is taking the same road and has already stopped offering per-minute voice and text plans since last year. T-Mobile is also doing the same and is expected to force customers into data plans that offer unlimited calls and text messaging in the coming months.
AT&T, whose profits from data services rose by 17.6% last quarter while seeing its voice and text revenue sink by 2.6%, also has another incentive to start switching to more data plans: the growing prevalence of VoIP or voice over IP, making it possible to make and receive calls through the Internet instead of the conventional lines and networks. Adding the popularity of instant messaging services such as Viber, WhatsApp, LINE, and even BBM, makes more data-centric subscriptions even more compelling.
Of course, AT&T cannot immediately and totally wipeout its traditional per-minute and per-text plans. Instead, it will keep on offering at least one such plan that bills per minute, with 450 minutes per month for $40, with additional provisions for text messaging and data.