WhatsApp cuts international mobile calls to eight-year low
10 May 2019
International mobile phone call traffic from Kenya hit an eight-year low on increased use of Internet-based platforms like WhatsApp and Skype, fresh data shows.
Official Economic Survey data shows that the traffic fell by 3.4 per cent in 2017 to 437.8 million minutes last year — the lowest since 2010.
Internet-based platforms are gaining popularity as subscribers turn to affordable and quality options to the traditional mobile calls.
“The total international traffic has been declining in the last three years partly due to availability of Over the Top (OTT) communication platforms that allow users to make free voice and video calls, following the removal of regulatory barriers,” the report says.
OTT are platforms that rely on the internet to make calls, videos and texts offering, which many callers find affordable.
Mobile phone subscribers can make international calls through WhatsApp using 50MB that costs Sh20 on average and can last nearly 10 minutes.
Calls from Nairobi to the US, China and India remain the cheapest, with rates of Sh5 per minute, putting the cost of a 10 minute call at Sh50.
International calls to Germany, Switzerland, France and Italy range between Sh40 and Sh50 a minute, making WhatsApp a cheaper calling option.
International calls made through the fixed telephone, however, nearly doubled in two years from 2017 to hit 15.8 million minutes last December, the report further shows.
Short Messages Services (SMS) sent outside the country fell to a six-year low of 35.9 million texts. In 2013, subscribers sent a total of 49.4 million SMSs, which was the highest in the period.
International SMSs received rose by 11 per cent to hit 45.9 million last year, up from 41.3 million in 2017.
Stiff competition for the local Internet market between telecoms operators has led to reduced cost of data bundles, making Internet-backed calls outside the country cheaper.