Are voice plans going the way of the dinosaur? Increasingly, free services are offering consumers an alternative to the traditional voice and text carriers. That’s great news for smart phone owners who are getting weary of paying high prices and being locked into multi-year contracts for a service that may prove to be redundant. As the quality of voice-over-IP (v-o-IP) continues to improve, many are toying with the idea of getting rid of their mobile phone carriers altogether. This is occurring as the traditional carriers find themselves in an increasingly competitive environment and new technology is making it easier to circumvent their services all together.
Interestingly, the very existence of the carriers was predicated on our need for the ability to communicate voice and text messaging on our cell phones. Now, new technology is killing the goose that initially laid the golden egg of mobile voice communications. Tech companies like Facebook and Skype are offering alternative delivery services that may eventually make companies like Verizon and T Mobile an extinct species. V-o-IP offers a significantly lower cost and reduced maintenance platform and accomplishes the same task.
Ironically, it is the very technology the traditional carriers fostered that is devouring its host. Alternative delivery systems explain why consumers continue to spend less time on their wireless phones. By 2011, the average caller was spending a scant 1.8 minutes per call. That represents a substantial decrease of 3.1 minutes average in 2007. According to Price Waterhouse Coopers, the time spent on a cellular call is continuing to decline. At the same time, more companies are offering inexpensive, high quality voice, video chat, and messaging apps that move over data networks. Facebook is offering free calling to its mobile messaging app for Canadian Facebook fans and even some traditional carriers are now offering low-cost v-o-IP technology. Although v-o-IP is not quite ready for the mass markets, it is making a lot of headway and is sure to be a force to be reckoned with in the near future.