No matter how you arrange to have telephone service, you have to have a telephone number — unless you go with something proprietary like Skype, which is really just glorified chat anyway. And getting a telephone number means going through a telephone company.
Yet when we want email, while we can and many do go through a major provider such as Gmail, the option exists to essentially be your own email access retailer. Thanks to my hosting account I can give myself any address I want on any one of three domains I own — with none of the restrictions imposed by Gmail (which, for example, won’t let me use my ham callsign as a username because it has only five characters and Gmail requires at least six). No one else has the same email address as me. A message depending on my email address to find me will find me. Even if I’m away from my computer, thanks to 3G.
Okay. So how would this model work, exactly?
[O]ne’s wireless device would register with a cell tower, not by its assigned number, but by the user’s unique email address. Or however many email addresses that user might be using with that device. The carrier would then remotely bill for bandwidth his device uses — the user himself for access through a personal address, or his employer when a work address is used. With direct autopay as an option, or going through a Paypal-type service, there’s no reason this shouldn’t work.
Alternatively, carriers could offer smartphone accounts without voice plans altogether but with true unlimited data access. The user would then be solely responsible for arranging for voice service with a VoIP carrier.
Already concepts like “area codes” are essentially meaningless: I know people here in town who have numbers not even slightly 405-ish.
But stipulating that the landline, as a concept, is pretty much dead — even AT&T, the poster child for ancient business models, says so — how long would this transition take? Five, ten years? And how much is it going to cost me?
(Title, of course, originally from here.)