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Free Voice Plans From Telcos Send Internet Telephony Calls Tumbling

Latest data released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) for the April-June quarter shows that Internet telephony (basically calls made through apps) calls with a total outgoing minutes of 189 million minutes saw a sharp decline of 26% both on a sequential and year-on-year basis.

With mobile operators providing free voice calls in their bundled voice and data plans, consumers seem to be bidding goodbye to WhatsApp for making domestic long distance calls (STD). Latest data released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) for the April-June quarter shows that Internet telephony (basically calls made through apps) calls with a total outgoing minutes of 189 million minutes saw a sharp decline of 26% both on a sequential and year-on-year basis.

Quite in contrast, the mobile voice call volumes for all the major telecom operators — Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and Idea Cellular — expanded during the period. While Bharti reported an increase of 62.2% y-o-y and 15.4% q-o-q in voice minutes, the same for Jio increased by 97.2% y-o-y and 20.6% q-o-q, and Idea by 39.4% y-o-y and 5.8% q-o-q.

Analysts said that the dip in WhatsApp calls is taking place — the declining trend started since January-March — because in the free voice call tariff schemes mobile operators also provide free STD calls and no roaming charges, where earlier consumers tended to prefer WhatsApp because of lower charges.

Internet telephony calls are basically calls made through apps which are carried on Internet protocol rather than wireless networks which carry normal mobile calls. More than 95% such calls today are made through WhatsApp which has emerged as the most convenient app for messaging as well voice and video calls. These calls can be made through wireless Internet as well as wireline broadband.

The decline in WhatsApp calls in recent times can be explained because initially free voice calls was offered only by Reliance Jio while other operators had limited plans which offered free calling. Slowly as other operators also switched large scale to free voice calls even for STD services, the charm for WhatsApp calls declined.

Still, some spurt in WhatsApp calling can be there if the network quality of mobile operator is weak in some areas leading to congestion or high call drops. – Financial Express

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