Coca-Cola Disconnects Voicemail
Sounds a bit ominous,right? Then you read they are only removing it* because most people aren't even using (it is a time suck)**, and instead are leaving short messages via text or IM or other means. But this is only an imperceptible recession of the water from the surf line. Get ready for the coming tsunami. A communications sea change. Soon, few people will need or even have cell phones (except as data lines). Even now you can completely ditch all land lines and cell lines, and just use a wifi capable device for all your communication needs. A device that follows you or regulates your communication based on your preferences, "presence", schedule, and settings. Even an obsolete 3G Android smart phone could be repurposed to do all this, with the proper apps installed.
I've been playing around with open source/free SIP phone systems for the last six months or so. That part is relatively mature technology, especially for enterprise business. If you wanted, you can whip up a linux SIP server, whether SipXecs or Asterix or whatever, go on craigslist and get all the used Polycom phones you would ever need for $10-20 apiece, get a cheap POE switch, or super cheap switch and wall-wart, and have an enterprise grade phone system in your house, garage, anywhere you want, for a couple hundred dollars. Less than a hundred dollars, even. If you have wifi connection and firewall (like the one Lambert has), you don't even need a land data package. These systems support video conferencing, IM, voicemail (if you want), phone conferencing, call history logging (and recording! Yikes!), low cost international calling, encryption, on and on. Absolutely everything you need. As long as you don't travel outside the range of wifi availability, you no longer need a cell phone. Just have your number routed through a SIP provider. This goes beyond what Vonage and Skype are doing, but it is definitely dependent on net neutrality, which may actually be the main target of the backbone providers (cable and telcom companies).
Now, it doesn't take you long to realize that, if cities offered free wifi service as part of their infrastructure, that would be the death of many cell phone companies. Especially those whose laughable business model is to service (exploit?) the 99% of the population in urban areas. If I was a betting man, I would go very, very short on T-Mobile (cough Kodak cough), and others like it. So, no wonder it still hasn't happened. But it doesn't matter what the cell phone companies want, no more than it mattering what Kodak or FujiFilm or the film camera companies wanted. Or, ultimately, cable companies, though fiber optic has so much room for bandwidth expansion and is so durable, that technology will be hard to overcome with wireless.
This is a disruptive technology, and I honestly think this is going to be a huge thing and is going to happen relatively quickly. As fast as the expansion of smart phones, 5-8 years.
* Just get past the obligatory, "oldsters don't get teh new tech", bullshit.
** FTLO Chtulu, like you need to be a millenial to hate voicemail. It has sucked for decades.