When did you last make a phone call? With airtime, not free minutes? For how long? What was the call about?
With the rise in VoIP services, regular calls are slowly starting to decline, or atleast the average time spent on them has reduced to less than 5 minutes, unless the call is highly important.
According to About.com, VoIP is defined as Voice over Internet Protocol. It is also referred to as IP Telephony or Internet Telephony. It is another way of making phone calls, with the difference of making the calls cheaper or completely free.
Social messengers like Whatsapp, BlackBerry Messenger, Viber, Skype, WeChat and Facebook Messenger are dominating the communication space. It’s only logical as they are cheaper because you can have a voice call or chat over them for a longer time compared to a regular phone call with the same amount of airtime.
You may argue that internet data bundles are generally expensive depending on what you use them for and your income (or lack of), but compare them to using credit in form of airtime to make a call for the same period of time.
There is also the fact that some VoIP supported applications allow you to make calls for free to anywhere in the world. So, yes, no cost for the user.
The limitations are that not everyone in Zambia has a smartphone that can run these applications but recently phone makers are trying to have internet supported low-budget phones. App developers are also working on their apps to make sure they are compatible with various types of devices. In addition VoIP has not yet been fully developed so some app features still are not being utilized by Zambian population. Don’t get me started on general internet connectivity from our ISPs…
Ringing phones now are also being considered ‘annoying’ by some. They would rather speak in silence over a social messenger like Whatsapp or BBM. They would also rather not have discussions in public so they will text rather than call. Calls are being considered only for ’emergencies’, when you need a faster response than a Whatsapp text whose recipent you’re not sure has read.
Others even say it’s much easier and cheaper to have discussions on social messengers by creating group chats rather than having to call or text several people one at a time.
Do we see a Phone Call Apocalypse soon?
Not yet. There is still need for phone calls. For example, businesses still believe that social media and messengers are an informal way to communicate if not for customer service or advertising. With regards to customer care, a consumer may ask a question via social media but usually they will probably be asked for their number for a more personal discussion about a product or service.
The normal pone call will still be around with us. A total wipe-out is hard to imagine. There will be lower numbers but never really down to zero. Plus we have to consider rural areas and some urban parts still have lower income groups that don’t have internet enabled phones and still only have calls and texts and calls for communicating with, even if they buy the lower end of the airtime family.
What can telecoms companies do?
Be better at all service and product provision, especially with voice call quality, whether normal or VoIP. They should stay with the times, listen to customer complaints, manage the problems and it will be all good.
Image Credits: IT Pro and Croatia Weekly