NEW YORK, June 5 (UPI) -- U.S. telephone industry experts say pricing for voice calling is shifting to reflect what phones are less and less apt to do, which is to make phone calls.
"The industry's definitely moving towards unlimited [phone calls]," AT&T Mobility Chief Executive Officer Ralph de la Vega said.
"Especially as more people adopt smartphones that have voice capabilities over the Internet, segmented voice plans will become less relevant."
Placing a phone call to speak to someone else now has competition with Internet services, such as Skype. In addition, sending a text message is taking up more and more of a phone's function away from the basic voice-oriented phone call.
The Internet is also whittling away at reasons people make phone calls, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
For example, why bother to place a phone call to ask for questionable directions from someone who might not answer the phone, when the Internet can supply flawless directions 24 hours a day by pressing a few buttons?
Experts say carriers are leaning toward unlimited phone call systems, because allowing customers to pay for limited phone calling is trimming their costs, in part because they are calling less often.
"I am just getting more and more rollover minutes now and there's no way I can use them," said customer E.C. Hurley of Farmville, Va., referring to his $50 per month plan.
Out of the 450 minutes of phone calling per month his plan allows, he often uses about 50, he said.
Data backs up the new culture of communication. The average phone call in 2006 lasted slightly over 3 minutes. Five years later, the average phone call is 1.78 minutes long, said CTIA, a trade group for communication companies.
"It's more important to offer a complete solution to consumers which is really, truly unlimited," T-Mobile USA Chief Executive Officer Philipp Humm said.
"The new world is a completely unlimited, worry-free world."