AT&T Boss Says Wireless Networks Are at a Crossroads

The wireless industry is on the edge of a major shift. That’s according to AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson, who believes that data-only mobile phone plans will soon be the industry standard.

Within the next two years, Stephenson said Friday, data-only wireless phone plans will debut.

And they will be a hot commodity as networks move away from so-called “traditional cell network usage.”

Although AT&T doesn’t currently have such plans, Stephenson couldn’t help but comment on this industry “inevitability.”

“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.”

What remains to be seen, of course, is how this transition will impact the bottom lines of wireless and mobile data providers.

All that is for certain, Stephenson speculates, is that the entire industry is undergoing a metamorphosis based on what consumers and content providers demand.

“It’s not us going out and mandating this,” he says. “The content guys are coming in asking for it. If you don’t allow those kinds of models to flourish, you’re going to inhibit the potential of these services.”