International voice traffic spikes 20% during pandemic

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International voice traffic was up 20% in March 2020 compared to the year before, while roaming traffic dropped by 30%, new figures show.

Industry body i3forum also finds that the average length of calls increased by more than 30% year-on-year in March and over 60% in April 2020.

“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.”

Mixed picture

The data was calculated using the i3forum Insights database, where nine participating carriers upload their voice traffic data into the system and compare data with the rest of the market. The platform was developed and is operated by TeleGeography.

“The first half of 2020 has really shown the value that traditional voice delivers in challenging times. It remains critical for businesses and consumers,” Millet said.

In a recent feature for Mobile Europe, Ulrich Grote, Chair, Ultra-low Energy (ULE) Alliance, also noted a demand for high-quality voice calls at home during the COVID-19 crisis and said the pandemic had caused an increase in landline use.
Broadly, analysts have predicted a mixed outlook for telecoms in the wake of the pandemic, although the sector is more resilient than others. Spikes in demand and usage are being tempered by an expected downturn in consumer spending.