- Because of the rise of OTT communications platforms, there has been a decline for telcos.
- The top 7 OTT communications platforms include WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, QQ, Viber, Line, and KakaoTalk. All of these platforms now account for nearly six million monthly active users.
- Nevertheless, TeleGeography admits it is nearly impossible to calculate the international minutes logged by OTTs.
International voice has been the cash cow for telecommunications carriers for over a century. But according to a new report by TeleGeography, this is now headed towards a dramatic change along with the increasing dominance of over-the-top and mobile players.
TeleGeography noted “It's been a race downhill ever since, as the slump in voice traffic has turned into a rout. Carriers’ traffic dropped by 9% in 2017 and 4% in 2018 and a further 6% in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic spurred a short-term rally in international call volumes in early 2020, but things pretty much returned to the new normal. Traffic fell a further 7% in 2020, slightly faster than the two previous years.”
Because of the rise of OTT communications platforms, there has been a decline for telcos. In this case, the top 7 OTT communications platforms include WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, QQ, Viber, Line, and KakaoTalk. All of these platforms now account for nearly six million monthly active users.
According to TeleGeography senior analyst Paul Brodsky, “It's hard to believe then that the recent decline in traffic means that people have lost interest in communicating with friends and family abroad. Rather, it suggests that they are turning to other means of keeping in touch.”
Nevertheless, TeleGeography admits it is nearly impossible to calculate the international minutes logged by OTTs.
“If we assume that total international (carrier plus OTT) traffic has continued to grow at a relatively modest 13% annually since 2013 (with a drop to 9% in 2018 due to texting, video, and email), the combined volume of carrier and OTT international traffic would have expanded to 1.6 trillion minutes in 2020, and to almost 1.8 trillion minutes in 2021,” Brodsky noted.
“Traditional carrier traffic has slumped, but OTT traffic has risen to fill the void. This calculation suggests that cross-border OTT traffic overtook international carrier traffic in 2016, and would be near 1.4 trillion minutes in 2021, dwarfing the 375 billion minutes of carrier traffic projected by TeleGeography.”
While some carriers saw an increase in international calling during the early parts of 2020, many others still saw declines. By the end of 2020, only one out of 24 carriers reported traffic levels higher than the year earlier.
“When the final numbers came in for 2020, global traffic had continued to drop at an even faster rate than in 2019,” the researchers said.
“The mobile-originated share of traffic dropped for the first time ever in 2020, albeit by a very small amount. (From 62.4% in 2019 to 62.0% in 2020),” TeleGeography further added.
“The upward trend seemed irreversible ever since mobile subs passed fixed subs in 2002, and then mobile-originated traffic surpassed fixed-originated traffic in 2013. Still, next year we anticipate that the upward trajectory of mobile-originated traffic share will return.”