One Day, You Won't Have To Pay Extra For Smartphone Data Plans, Cisco's CEO Predicts

cisco ceo john chambers

Here’s a nice thought: Your smartphone’s data plan should be getting cheaper over time, not more expensive.

That’s because carriers’ networks will be able to move data more efficiently, Cisco CEO John Chambers told AllThingsD’s Walt Mossberg Wednesday in an interview at the D11 conference.

Mobile data networks could actually become so efficient that the cost for any one phone to use their networks is negligible.

If carriers pass those savings along to you, mobile plans might even one day be “free,”  Chambers said at the event, as reported by AllThingsD’s Liz Gannes.

Then again, it’s doubtful carriers will be willing to give up their mobile data fees anytime soon. They are really just getting started.

In March, analyst firm Chetan Sharma Consulting released a report showing that mobile data accounted for 44 per cent of wireless carriers’ revenue in Q4 of 2012, and could eclipse the 50 per cent mark in Q4 of this year.

All US carriers require a monthly data plan for smartphones. These used to be unlimited, but Sprint is now the only carrier that doesn’t cap the amount customers can download each month. 

There’s no denying mobile carrier networks are going to need upgrades to handle the growing flood of traffic from smartphones and tablets, and Cisco—with many carrier customers—is pushing technology at them to make it happen. 

Cisco released data in February showing that worldwide mobile data traffic grew 70% in 2012 and it set to grow at a rate of 66% every year until 2017. 

If mobile data prices do fall, carriers are going to have to find new ways to make money. Some carriers are already filling the void by gathering data on subscriber behaviour and selling it to third parties, Jessica Leber of MIT Technology Review reported in April. 

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