Oh, I agree, in the 90's it was the same for internet access. You paid them per byte or at a max bandwidth using 95 percentile numbers etc. Now you pay simply for the line and only pay extra if you burst excessively over your data rate. This now being more of a SLA support type of cost then a true "using bandwidth" type of thing. At my last place we had 6 T3's running across OC3. We consistently bursted above our "allowed bandwidth" but never paid extra unless we modified our SLA or support agreement.
Like the Internet Access industry in the long run, as the market segments and services become more defined the consumer will buy the product they are using and the access fees will be rolled into that cost. This will reduce churn rates, provide services closer to what the consumer wants and reduce costs. For example, a large membership enterprise like AARP with 37Million members in the US could purchase bulk time and data on Cingular or T-mo (whomever) and rebrand phone units as their own, sell a service that reminds you to take your meds, pay your bills, deliver information focused on them (such as Medicare, Social Security, elder law, etc). And AARP would charge you a fixed amount for the service. Cingular would sell AARP a huge amount of bandwidth and minutes at a reduced cost. Cingular wins with a defined fixed income of a group with millions of members, AARP wins with a defined market of delivering their product and the consumer wins with a fixed cost of service delivering what they want.
Then of course you'd have hybrid services, much like you do now when you see "Welcome to Joe's Blog site, powered by Google". Segmentation of the market will drive competition and Wireless carriers will become bulk resellers just like long distance phone carriers did.
I'm confident in this. Let's mark our calendars to revisit this thread in 2-3 years
Loser buys dinner, we'll meet in Monterey - half way from LA to SF.