international voice


People are talking across borders more and more. But the minutes carried the old-fashioned way by telecom operators are on a downward trajectory. It won’t be long before conventional calling will go the way of the telegram. Telcos terminated 547 billion minutes of international traffic in 2013, and Skype plus carrier traffic totaled 761 billion minutes. If we assume that total international (carrier plus OTT) traffic has continued to grow at a relatively modest 13 percent annually since 2013, the combined volume of international traffic would have reached 1.
That’s the first page of the new international call charges announced by Telenor Myanmar. Compared to the dollar a minute (900 Kyat) charged by MPT prior to the entry of competitors, this is very good. The last time we collated international voice prices was in early 2012. But even in relation to that ancient table, one can see that the currently announced prices can come down further. The single most important factor affecting international call prices is competition in the market for international calls.
That conventional voice traffic would decline on international routes was known (except to the people who came with elaborate schemes to control it). How fast was where the guessing was. Telegeography has some numbers: New data from TeleGeography show that growth in international call traffic has slumped while international traffic routed via Skype continues to accelerate. International phone traffic grew an estimated 4 percent in 2010, to 413 billion minutes, down from 5 percent growth in 2009, and a far cry from the 15 percent average growth rate achieved during the previous two decades. Where did the growth go?
The op-ed piece written up on the basis of one of the LIRNEasia benchmark studies, has been published in the leading Bangladesh newspaper, Daily Star. The data and recommendations thus have been published, in various forms, in the special issue of Himal Southasian, in The Dawn, as a Choices column on LBO, and also flashed by AFP. As a result of the latter, it has got play in a number of publications, including in a Vietnam publication, the Mirror online (Sri Lanka), etc. Telecompk.net has also started a discussion.