Increases in subscriber bases and in monthly per-subscriber charges (Nextel's $68 average is highest; Verizon's is lowest at $46) are needed to service the massive debt-burden these companies face mainly as a result of spectrum auctions and infrastructure build-outs. Worse, while economies of scale and technology upgrades have boosted the bottom line, marketing costs have soared and price competition has created a new consumer norm for what constitutes acceptable pricing.
Voice Still Rules
Every time I see the kids at my son's baseball practice scramble to figure out whose cell phone is ringing, I'm reminded that we're fast approaching a level of cellular voice density that nobody could have predicted. This level of connectedness has had a profound impact on business and society, fueled by technical development and cutthroat competition.
But wireless data remains, at best, an afterthought. Yes, in key vertical markets and among a sliver of the population we can refer to as mobile professionals, broadband wireless data has the potential to transform. But for most of us, the value proposition of making a phone call from your car is compelling, whereas the value proposition of accessing a Web site from your PDA is nothing more than confusing.