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International voice traffic spikes 20% during COVID-19

Roaming traffic might be down substantially, but industry association i3Forum is reporting a surge in the number and duration of international calls.

International roaming traffic dropping in the region of 30% during the coronavirus pandemic, though international voice traffic increased 20% year-on-year in March, while the duration of phone calls was up 30% in March and over 60% in April 2020 compared to 2019.

“Changing user behaviours, resulting from the move to remote working and ‘stay at home’ orders, have had an immediate impact on the international voice market,” said Philippe Millet, Chairman of i3forum.

“i3forum Insights has seen an initial spike in traffic in March then a return to regular traffic volumes in April, albeit with different patterns as people have adapted to new social and working situations. What is striking is the growth in call duration. Calls are longer and that compensated for the decline in number of calls.”

Although the increased call volume is unlikely to compensate for the falling revenues attributed to roaming, it is another example of shifting consumer behaviour during the COVID-19 period. The world is slowly returning to some semblance of normality, but it is always worth remembering that some of the coronavirus behaviours will stick.

The extremity of today’s work from home dynamic will not persist, but some of the lessons learned will. Businesses can function without being in the office every single day and cloud technologies do have advantages. These behaviours will have an impact on telco operations, and although this lock-down period will not persist indefinitely, telcos are fooling themselves if they think the world will return completely to the pre-COVID-19 days.


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