WhatsApp calling is not inflicting a significant blow to Vodacom’s voice calls.
This is according to Jannie van Zyl, Executive Head: Innovation at Vodacom, who was speaking at the 2018 MyBroadband Conference.
Van Zyl said that there are around 12 million active WhatsApp users on Vodacom’s network, of which roughly 2 million make WhatsApp calls.
These users generate tens of millions of WhatsApp calling minutes – which may sound like a lot, but is tiny compared to the billions of GSM calling minutes on Vodacom’s network.
Van Zyl said that there are several reasons for the “low” uptake of WhatsApp calling in South Africa, of which access to the required device is one.
For WhatsApp calling to work, both the caller and receiver need a smartphone that supports WhatsApp and a good mobile data connection.
Many users in South Africa do not have access to these devices.
Van Zyl added that humans do not change their behaviour easily, and are used to using the “green button” on their cellphone.
They know that when they push the green call button, they are able to call any cellphone user they want – and it is a comfortable process for them.
This behaviour is taking place despite cellular networks like Vodacom and MTN not dropping voice call prices for the past four years.
With mobile and fixed-broadband data prices dropping in recent years, the lack of movement in the price of standard voice calls means the service essentially becomes more expensive to use each year compared to VoIP apps.