Mobile Trends / News

Aussie Telcos worried about free Facebook calls

According to ACMA’s recent Communications Report, 7.5 million Australians now access the internet via their mobile phone each month, which equates to 42% of people over 18 in Australia. We now have 11.17  million smartphone users in Australia, up 29% in the year since the last report.  

ACMA Mobile Usage

*Relates to use of the internet via a mobile phone handset each year during the month of June.

With increased take up of smartphones and tablets we’ve seen a correlating jump in the use of VoIP, with mobile VoIP users increasing by 73 per cent to 1.06 million.   Mobile VoIP offers a genuine alternative to the use of  Telco networks for mobile calls and recent announcements from Facebook and Whatsapp will have a major impact on this category in 2014.

Facebook recently acquired cross platform messaging provider Whatsapp for a staggering $19 billion dollars, suggesting that they see some pretty impressive value in the company.  Whatsapp followed this announcement with a commitment to launch a voice messaging service in Q2 2014. Whatsapp has a huge global user base of around 450 million users, growing at a rate of about a million per day.  Message volumes through Whatsapp are almost on par with global SMS messaging.

Some sources suggest as many as 19% of Australian smartphone owners, or around 2 million Australians, already use Whatsapp, but with Facebook’s acquisition, that is sure to rise.  Facebook has 12 million users Australia. Nine million of those are daily active users, with 7.3 million of them using the mobile app. So last year’s VOIP usage in Australia of just over 1 million is likely to be pushed significantly if Facebook launch Whatsapp Voice here.

What would happen  if 7 million Australians stopped using the Telco networks and adopted free voice calling via a Facebook mobile app?  Naturally this has the Telcos worried, with some calling for regulatory changes so that they can charge VOIP providers extra for using their data network.





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