SMS and voice calls losing ground at Internet expense

With the entry of fibre cables into the African market, the continent’s mobile service providers have started shifting focus from Voice calls and SMS and are now embracing Internet data services to generate revenues.

According to African mobile service providers, SMS revenue has dwindled significantly prompting them to find strategies set to sustain SMS use by their customers.

This follows stiff competition from social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter as well as teleconferencing facilities provided on the Internet.

Airwide Solutions research indicates social networking could become more popular compared to SMS and voice calls by 2012. The research showed that given the three options, 87 percent of customers would prefer SMS/MMS, 81 percent Voice while 94 percent Social media.

“Many people believe that with everybody focusing on data, SMS and voice calls has slowly and steadily died. This may be true as far as voice calls is concerned, but for SMS, it is not dead just yet, “said Mbugua Njihia, CEO, Symbiotic Media Consortium and Laura Walker, Director of Operations, Frontline SMS.

Mbugua explained that many companies still rely heavily on SMS for regular communication within themselves and with their clients.

A majority of the mobile service providers have since come up with daily subscription services to send unlimited number of SMS per day to increase its prevalence as means of communication.

In Kenya, banks and utility providers including Kenya power have recently started sending SMS notifications to their clients. Others have also considered social media platform including Twitter and Facebook SMS Notifications to reach their clients.

“Most of the applications being developed in the current market have SMS capabilities. This is because SMS is the easiest way to keep in touch with their customers,” said Mbugua.

Mbugua added that developers should not just concentrate on building the applications and forget their core purpose, which is service delivery.

“SMS is the biggest digital communication media in the world,” said Laura Walker, of Frontline SMS.

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