The past few weeks have been a good one for wireless consumers who can't seem to get off the phone. Three of the four major national wireless carriers -- Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility, and T-Mobile ? unveiled unlimited wireless voice calling plans for $99.99 per month. Sprint-Nextel is testing unlimited voice in four cities and may go national very soon in response to the other three carriers? announcements.
This shift in the wireless market reflects both the falling cost of making wireless calls and the perceived desire of consumers to have calling plans where they don't have to worry about going over their allotted plan minutes. This follows a similar trend to what happened over the past decade in the landline voice industry, where metered long distance plans were gradually replaced by all-you-can-eat bundles of local and long distance service. While many consumers gravitated to those bundled landline plans, TRAC's research indicates that the typical phone user can still save money by sticking with a metered long distance plan coupled with a standard, unlimited local plan. Similar math applies to the new unlimited wireless plans. The great majority of users do not make enough wireless calls in a month to need an unlimited voice plan. In addition, none of the companies have announced that subscribers will be able to share minutes on these plans, making them suited mostly to the power-user as opposed to the great many subscribers who share their minutes on so-called ?family? plans.
Another type of user who may benefit from the unlimited wireless plans are individuals who are already spending in excess of $100 combined on their landline, long distance, and wireless services. Such users, who may already be investigating ditching their landline phones anyway, could potentially save by going to an unlimited wireless voice plan. An additional point to keep in mind is that only T-Mobile is offering unlimited text-messages as a part of the unlimited voice package. Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility are both charging an extra fee for unlimited text messages on top of unlimited voice.
Source: Telecommunications Research and Action Center. http://www.trac.org