When I first heard about Google Voice and Google's acquisitions around VOIP technologies, I thought Google would liberate us from using "Voice" plans by now. Especially with 4G technologies, there's not much reason to stick with voice plans. Just use Wi-Fi and a data plan that you can use for everything when you're not next to a hot-spot.
While Google still hasn't delivered us that promise so far, Republic Wireless, a division of the bandwidh provider Bandwidth.com, is launching a $19/month plan that includes unlimited data without caps, unlimited voice and unlimited messages. The service is launching on November 8th.
This is much like T-mobile's UMA service, which works on some Blackberry and Android phones, but just like T-mobile's service it's restricted by the hardware they give you. You only have so many options to use it. This is why it would be much better if Google enabled this sort of calling through VOIP and Wi-FI as a built-in native option next to your regular call button in all Android phones.
Still this is the beginning of change in the industry, and as soon as these types of services become more popular, the big carriers will have no choice but to offer similar services, too. Once LTE networks are deployed and mature, it shouldn't be too costly for them to offer this kind of service, although they will probably make it more expensive at first, because of fear of becoming a dumb pipe, that only offers an Internet connection, much like the ISP's.
Hopefully, soon enough, Google will either negotiate something with the carriers or release Google Voice with VOIP, the way it should be without their approval. Google needs to lead the way here, especially because they dominate the smartphone market. I understood them when they were still small and growing, but they are quickly turning into a major force in the mobile industry. It's time for them to exercise a bit of that force for the good of the consumers.