Many people use unlocked cell phones to get away from being locked into carriers, but Google, Android, AT&T and Cisco are conspiring to bring us better data service, and the technology can be applied just as easily to unlocked cell phones, making a carrier almost unnecessary.
Hotspot 2.0 is starting to get rolled out, and it enables cell phones to connect to Wi-Fi devices without using SSIDs, passwords, or having to prompt the user.
Carriers benefit because it would take much of the strain smartphones have put on their networks…and local governments should get behind it because removing that strain is critical for emergencies when thousands of calls, texts, and data strain the network as emergency calls and “I’m alright” texts go out.
According to Cisco, most current WiFi spots will only need a software upgrade. That means that you can attune your unlocked cell phone (probably fairly quickly if you’re using an open-sourced OS) to rely heavily on these hotspots (porbably best if you’re in a major city). Just make sure that you’re connected to WiFi when you use your phone, or get a minimal carrier-plan as back-up should there be no WiFi nearby.
Of course, it’s not too likely that carrier will rollover and let unlocked cell phones and improved WiFi availability steal their customers, but in the short term there’s no doubt that it will be necessary. Even as Sprint got the iPhone they made sure the device would prompt to use WiFi as much as possible so they could maintain the same unlimited plans without facing the downfall of AT&T and Verizon.
In other countries, similar WiFi usage has lead to vastly cheaper phone plans, and allowed smaller phone companies to rise up and overthrough their local cell phone oligarchy. If this goes wide spread, and unlocked cell phone users adapt their phones to it early, it could revolutionize the American cell phone game.