Two months have passed since my previous blog about WhatsApp voice, so let’s circle back and see where we stand now. An interesting region to look at in this context is Latin America (LATAM). Although LATAM is sometimes overlooked when it comes to analyzing global trends in the telco industry, the mobile sector accounted for close to 69 per cent of total telecom revenue, with Chile showing the highest per capita mobile penetration rate in the region (151.7 per cent), followed by Argentina (145.8 per cent), according to the Global Business Intelligence firm Dataxis.
It should therefore not come as a surprise that once WhatsApp launched its voice call service, it became a favorite in Latin America where it is competing with the likes of Viber, Skype, Tango, Line, Google Hangout, BBM and FaceTime.
Our Allot MobileTrends research team found that WhatsApp Voice accounts for 21.5% of the Voice over IP market in LATAM. The app was able to become the 3rd most popular VoIP application in just 3 months. This latest research was a follow-up of the one covered in our “What’s Up with WhatsApp for Mobile Operators?” blog post.
What made WhatsApp Voice so popular in Latin America? For one, WhatsApp already had a huge user base. To illustrate, during the time between it being acquired by Facebook and the launch of its voice call feature, the number of users rose by 61%.
Claro Brazil reacted with an interesting strategy: the carrier launched a nationwide promotion offering all its customers free access to the three most-used social networks: Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter. This made it the first local operator to remove charges simultaneously for all three applications. Customers who sign up for Promoção Internet Turbinada will not be charged for data used to access these applications. The offer extends to all data plans including prepaid and postpaid. Neither Facebook, which owns WhatsApp, or Twitter will be paying for the free access. However, Carlos Zenteno, CEO of Claro, emphasized that the offer deal does not include WhatsApp voice calls since those would “cannibalize” Claro’s own voice services.
Claro is a good example of how an operator can handle OTT. It all starts with getting visibility in order to define a strategy. Once an operator has insight, it can opt for several strategies, such as application-centric charging, mobile ads and revenue sharing. Needless to say, the ability to distinguish between WhatsApp instant messaging and WhatsApp voice is crucial to Claro’s strategy.
With the rising popularity of video calling apps, bandwidth usage soars. Operators are forced to keep track of the main applications that are gobbling up their bandwidth usage in order to provide QoS to their customers. Allot ClearSee actionable network analytics helps them to track abnormal moves in applications network activity or bandwidth due to e.g., WhatsApp voice, and proactively respond to those changes. This enables them to maintain user experience and plan their networks.
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