The wireless communications industry may not be too worried just yet, but industry analysts say that maybe they just ought to be, with speculation rising that wireless carriers will sooner or later be replaced by data networks which will be capable of sending everything currently able to be sent on an old cell phone, including text messages, voice calls and videos, which currently have to be sent over two separate networks – one for data and one for voice – and costs more accordingly.
The change looks set to be accelerated by the recent acquisition of VOIP service Skype by Microsoft, which paid eight and a half billion dollars for the privilege. Services such as Skype are already cutting into the profits made by wireless carriers because they essentially provide the same service over the internet. With the telecommunications industry already facing the increasing abandonment of landlines in favor of cell phones, if data networks begin to cut into that service, they could start to be in trouble. “Eventually, everything migrates to a data channel”, says a Verizon Wireless executive, Brian Higgins. Higgins is the man tasked with developing products and services for Verizon Wireless’ super fast 4G network. “We’re moving away from silos of communication to one where everything is combined together.”
Skype is not the only competition that wireless carriers will have to worry about either, with mobile messaging apps such as Kik and Group Me, also enabling people to send messages via data networks and thus cutting out the fee for sending text messages the tried and trusted old cell phones.