Between the technical difficulties facing our existing cellular infrastructure and vehement carrier opposition against altering the status quo, a future of data-only subscriptions and VOIP-powered mobile telephony seemed a long way off. Now, however, it appears that the light at the end of the (data) tunnel is finally burning bright. And, surprisingly, the torch-bearer is AT&T’s own CEO, Randall Stephenson.

As AppleInsider reports, Stephenson predicted at yesterday’s investor’s conference that

data-only wireless phone plans are likely to arrive within the next two years, marking a dramatic shift away from traditional cell network usage toward VoIP and text-as-data solutions like Apple’s iMessage. …

“I’ll be surprised if, in the next 24 months, we don’t see people in the market place with data-only plans,” Stephenson said. “I just think that’s inevitable.”

Stephenson was quick to point out that, at this juncture, AT&T has no pending data-only plan in place for smartphone customers, and his company is — appropriately for a telecom — playing everything by ear.

Of course, even when such data-only plans actually come to fruition, they won’t necessarily be cheaper than their voice-based counterparts. Still, in terms of bang for the buck, they’ll probably be a better deal — for you and hopefully, eventually, the carriers, too.

Source: AppleInsider