Macworld has a great article up today about the arrival of Skype on the iPhone (and soon the BlackBerry) and what the widespread availability of VoIP (voice over IP) clients -- which eschew the traditional phone lines to send talk via data instead -- means for cell providers like AT&T, Verizon, O2, Rogers, etc. who've made tons of traditional money billing us all by the minute.

One common future seen for cell companies is that of "dumb pipes" -- like DSL or cable companies that provide bandwidth but few if any premium services. Verizon shows how far (and foolish) they'll go to avoid that fate:

“We have moved away from unlimited data plans,” Verizon Wireless President and CEO Lowell McAdam said at a question-and-answer session at CTIA. “The excitement of an over-the-top application like (Skype) in an unlimited environment means one thing to a customer. In an environment where you're paying for every byte, that means something totally different."

I wonder, tongue only partially in cheek, if McAdam used to work for the music or movie industry? Our own editor-in-chief, Dieter Bohn, freshly returned from CTIA shared his thoughts:

Dear Verizon: You always become what you most fear. To wit: dumb pipes. Love, the inevitable.

Sounds good to me. Let's make a deal, carriers. You supply the bandwidth, keep the bits open and neutral, and I'll pay for the service same way I pay for my electricity and plug in whatever gadget I want. Deal?

Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T Mobility, the iPhone's US carrier, seems almost on a page with that already:

"The way the world is going, it’ll just be, 'How much data do you want to buy?’ and you do whatever you want over that data."

Check out the complete article at Macworld for more, and let us know what future you want for your data below...