Carrier-free cellphone coming in early 2010?

In March of this year I speculated that – between Google Voice and Android – the era of the carrier-free cellphone might be upon us. Many of my mobile-savvy friends scoffed – the existing model was too entrenched, they argued, and the carriers would fight like hell to delay their transition from value-added service provider to dumb pipe.

It’s not yet confirmed news, but a steady drumbeat of speculation now points to a carrier-free cellphone being in market by the first quarter of 2010. The long-rumored “Google Phone” is now believed to be a VOIP-only Android device, with carriers bidding to be the data provider at $20 a month.

This could turn out to be just another case of overblown speculation, but I’m betting not – and despite my early prediction even I’m surprised at how fast the wish is coming true.