Nearly 20% of Americans have abandoned landline telephone service according to a Nielsen Mobile report; Douglas Wolk says that, thanks to voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP), we soon may be snipping the metaphorical cord to cell phones as well.
VoIP is currently hobbled by spotty Internet access and mobile carriers protecting their interests, but has one huge factor in its favor: It is very cheap. According to a recent Yankee Group report, 5.2 % of Americans already use VoIP as their primary home phone.
Recently VoIP became available for the iPod Touch, making it functionally as much a phone as the regular iPhone, except without the two-year AT&T contract. There must be a wireless hotspot handy, however, and they are far from ubiquitous at present. But that may change.
One possibility is that omnipresent wireless Internet access may come to be considered a basic public utility, Wolk writes -- something any modern city provides as part of its infrastructure. Another possibility is that mobile networks that already exist will open up to VoIP companies like Vonage, Skype, and Google Voice.