Showing posts with label Apps Messaging. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Apps Messaging. Show all posts

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Mobile Voice Communications is neither Dying, nor Dead!

If you have been following the mobile industry for a long time, you could be forgiven for thinking that voice communications is dead. This 2013 article for example talks about the impending death of voice and this 2018 article talks about how smartphones have killed the art of conversation. These are just examples and I have read many similar articles in the last 5-10 years.

The thing is that a lot of unnecessary calls became SMS and messages once the price of SMS and data went down. Similarly, voice ceased to be a differentiator in many markets so they started offering unlimited voice and/or SMS locally. This does not necessarily solve my requirements for international calling so I moved on to Viber, WeChat and WhatsApp.

The annual TeleGeography Report and Database update (just released) estimates that international over-the-top (OTT) voice traffic reached 1 trillion minutes in 2019, compared to just 432 billion minutes of international carrier traffic.

Anyway, with the lockdown in many countries because of coronavirus COVID-19, people have re-discovered the use of voice communications again. While I prefer having meetings on the internet, sometimes it's just simpler to call using your phone. A friend discovered that while she has some 40 GB data allowance that was generally more than enough, working from home means that she is having to use her device as a hotspot that is using up all her data. Switching from OTT calling to unlimited voice calling in her package means that she doesn't have to worry about voice calls eating her data package.

She is not alone. Operators all over are reporting the rise in voice communications:

  • 27 Mar 2020 - O2 UK reported, "Since March 16th we have seen approximately 57% more voice traffic at the busiest point of the day. Typically voice traffic increases 5% year on year, and in a week we have experienced an increase of voice traffic comparable to nine years of regular demand." (link)
  • 26 Mar 2020 - Official numbers reported by CTIA from Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and U.S. Cellular stated that mobile voice traffic was up 24.3% while mobile data traffic was up 9.2% (see photo above - link)
  • 24 Mar 2020 - Telenor Norwar tweeted, "Traffic has increased sharply since the coronary smith was seriously registered in this country. 50% increase in mobile voice, 25% increase in mobile data and 30-40% increase in fixed broadband"
  • 24 Mar 2020 - T-Mobile USA released some interesting stats including gaming, etc. With regards to voice, their announcement said, "People are talking and texting more. Messaging is up dramatically, with a 26% increase in SMS (texting) and a 77% increase in MMS (pictures, multi-party texts, etc.). And, the amount of time people spend on calls has increased 17% nationwide." (link)
  • 20 Mar 2020 - Telia in Denmark reported, "Thursday, March 12, the volume of speech in the network thus increased by 24% compared to the day before. Over the weekend 50% more was spoken - obviously due to a need to gain status on family and friends in the new situation. In the past working week, about 60% more has been spoken on the phone than on a normal week in March." (translated from original)
Is voice important for an operator? Probably not very much in the developed markets where users pay a good amount for data packages. In developing countries, voice is still a good source of revenue. At the TIP summit last year, Malaysian telecom giant Axiata said that ""every gigabyte costs about $1.40 to manufacture...generates only 80 cents in revenue...The 2G voice business currently funds any losses". This is not a long term sustainable model for these operators.


Funnily I just remembered that in a survey of over 1000 people in the USA regarding what they want from 5G, the third most important thing was "clearer voice quality". If you want to understand how voice quality is measured that see this tweet below


We may keep on seeing a boom in voice traffic as more lockdowns occur and they are even stricter. We will have to wait and see of this habit of talking sticks or it's just for this unusual situation.

Related Posts:

Sunday, 3 December 2017

SMS is 25 years old today

SMS is 25 years old. The first SMS, "Merry Christmas" was sent on 3rd December 1992 from PC to the Orbitel 901 handset (picture above), which was only able to receive SMS but not send it. Sky news has an interview with Neil Papworth - the man who sent the very first one back in 1992 here.

While SMS use has been declining over some time, thanks to messaging apps on smartphones like WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook messenger, etc., it is still thought to be used for sending 20 billion messages per day.

While I dont have the latest figures, according to analyst Benedict Evans, WhatsApp and WeChat combined are now at over 100bn messages per day.

According to Daily Mirror, by the end of 2017, researchers expect 32 trillion messages to be sent annually over apps compared to only 7.89 trillion text messages.


Tomi Ahonen makes an interesting in the tweet above, all cellular phone users have SMS capability by default while only smartphone users who have downloaded the messaging apps can be reached by a particular messaging app. The reach of SMS will always be more than any competing apps.


That is the reason why GSMA is still betting on RCS, an evolution of SMS to compete with the messaging apps. My old post on RCS will provide some basic info here. A very recent RCS case studies document from GSMA here also provides some good info.

RCS will have a lot of hurdles and challenges to overcome to succeed. There is a small chance it can succeed but this will require change of mindset by operators, especially billing models for it to succeed.

Dean Bubley from Disruptive Analysis is a far bigger skeptic of RCS and has written various posts on why it will fail. One such post that makes interesting reading is here.

Anyway, love it or hate it, SMS is here to stay!

See Also:

Friday, 13 July 2012

OTT Messaging and the need for Telco-OTT Strategies

Sometime back I created a OTT Stats, Facts and Figures presentation for the FWIC conference and in that revealed the shocking figures of how popular the OTT messaging have become and how its impacting the operators worldwide by cannibalising their revenue. Below is a presentation by Dean Bubley from Disruptive Analysis who believes that in light of the OTT messaging apps eating into operators profits, Telco-OTT strategies are inevitable. Its not the question of 'if' but 'when'.



Wednesday, 13 June 2012

#FWIC: OTT Stats, Facts and Figures

The 4th Future of Wireless International Conference (#FWIC) is 2 weeks away and the main theme of the conference is "The Reshaping of the Mobile Industry". In some of the recent conferences I have attended, OTT has been one of the main topic of discussion and a concern for the operators. The operators are at the top of the food chain, whatever affects them eventually affects the other players within the mobile industry. With this is mind, we have prepared a document that collects all the figures in one place to be used as a handy reference for quoting stats and figures.
The above presentation is available to download from Slideshare here.

The agenda for the conference is available here. I am also chairing track 4 on day 1, "Where next for devices" so please feel free to join us in the discussion if devices are an area of your interest.

You can also connect with the other attendees of the conference on Linkedin here.

Finally, here is my summary of the event from last year. I look forward to meeting all of you who will be attending this event.