For all of their emphasis on smartphones and data plans, carriers are still mainly in the business of talk. Ever since the first analog brick phone, operators have made their money and built their profits on voice and later SMS. This year, however, the balance will shift.
According to a new report from Chetan Sharma Consulting, data accounted for 44 percent of all U.S. operators’ service revenue in the 4th quarter, and the rapid transition from dumb phones to smartphones is driving that number upwards. Meanwhile, unlimited talk plans are proliferating even as voice plan pricing is falling. That’s causing average voice revenue per subscriber to drop.
Eventually the rising data line and falling voice line will intersect on the industry’s revenue graph. Sharma plots that meeting point in the 4th quarter of 2013, at which point operators will start to look more like ISPs than phone…
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