Traffic Problems for Carriers

For many years Skype was the alternative to using your regular phone number. While other services like Truphone, Free World Dialup, Gizmo Project and more all were around as VoIP alternatives, millions of people flocked to Skype to call their friends and family, as well as used it internally as their “private” phone service. In my agency, I looked at Skype as our intercom, connecting dozens of virtual workers and being able to call them, as well as conferencing them in for calls regularly.

 

With the rise of conference calling platforms that didn’t require dialing in, services like UberConference (now Dialpad Meetings), HiDef Conferencing (now GoToMeeting), Zoom and WebEx all became the norm for “appointment calling,” moving more voice minutes off of the PSTN and over to VoIP. Web conferencing then grew even more with the development of WebRTC, propelled by Google, but adopted by many other companies offering conferencing and collaboration too.

 

Both developments, VoIP and Conference calling led to a traffic problem for the carriers. Declining calling minutes and an increase in non-SMS text messaging plus the shift to data plan usage largely due to smartphones, as well as the decline for the need of a phone company supplied landline all created the perfect storm for carriers. A big traffic problem.

 

In reality it was the rise of many now long gone alternative messaging apps, as I wrote as far back as the late 2000’s , that contributed to the move away from the traditional mobile network to services today like Signal, FaceTime, WhatsApp, Telegram, and Facebook Messenger. That in turn has led to a significant increase in the number of people using these apps to make voice and video calls and send messages without touching the POTS networks, and in turn reducing minutes and text messaging traffic.

 

The public’s change in communication habits can be attributed to several key factors for the shift away from both carrier based text and voice traffic.

First and foremost, the convenience of these apps cannot be overstated. With just a few taps, users can initiate a call with anyone in their contact list, regardless of their location. This is a stark contrast to traditional phone lines, which often require users to enter long strings of numbers and navigate through automated menus just to place a call.

A second major factor is the increased security and privacy that these apps offer. Many messaging apps use end-to-end encryption to protect the conversations and calls of their users. This means that only the parties involved in the conversation can see the content, preventing hackers and other malicious actors from intercepting the communication. Additionally, many apps like Signal and Telegram also have built-in security features such as self-destructing messages and passphrase-protected chats. Then there’s the knowledge of who’s calling. In an era of spoofed calls, robocalls and too many “wrong numbers” the power of personal calling can’t be overstated.

In addition to the above-mentioned features, many apps also offer additional functionalities like sending files, videos, pictures, and more, which traditional phone lines don’t provide.

Lastly, the cost of using these apps is often much lower than traditional phone lines. Many messaging apps are free to download and use, and even those that do require a subscription fee are often significantly cheaper than traditional phone plans.


Overall, the convenience, security, privacy, and cost-effectiveness of these apps have made them a popular choice for making calls, and this trend is likely to continue in the future.W

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