AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson believes that within two years mobile customers will be able to sign up for data-only plans. While speaking at an investors conference in New York, Stephenson explained that these plans would view phone calls and text messaging as just another form of data — though this could lead to a hike in prices. However, he didn't give any indication as to AT&T's future in that regard, simply saying "I'll be surprised if, in the next 24 months, we don't see people in the marketplace with data-only plans."
The CEO also made a number of other predictions, most of which reiterate things we've been hearing about for some time — data use will jump 75 percent annually for the next five years, he believes, while we'll likely see smaller wireless carriers merge in an attempt to maximize the existing spectrum. What he doesn't see happening, at least for AT&T, is the sharing of that spectrum. "It's hard for a company like us to [share] and manage quality of service," he said. "I don't see that as a fix for addressing the issues we have."