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.

Ericsson reaches for client wins prior to MWC

Any client win will do when you’re trying to build positive momentum leading into the annual telecoms jamboree.

With all due respect to Montenegrin operator Crnogorski Telekom and niche Canadian operator Eastlink, their business is unlikely to be a major factor in the long-awaited Ericsson turnaround. But a win’s a win, so Ericsson decided to whack out a couple of press releases anyway on the off chance that a telecoms hack might be so desperate for something to cover on a Monday afternoon that they take the bait.

The significance of the Crnogorski gig is not so much the seismic significance of Montenegro as a market, but a handy proof point of Ericsson’s industrial IoT credentials. That’s because the deal consists of a ten-year energy infrastructure management contract, the first born of Ericsson’s energy-as-a-service collaboration with Panasonic, announced a year ago.

“We are pleased to announce the signing of the Energy Infrastructure Management agreement with Ericsson,” said Valentina Radulovic, Technology Director at Crnogorski Telekom. “This is another sustainable solution which we decided to implement in order to further reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.”

“Energy Infrastructure Management minimizes energy consumption and total cost of ownership while maximizing system resilience and connectivity uptime, which is why we like to think of this offering as ‘energy-functions optimization’,” said Philip Herman, VP of Green Tower Solutions at Panasonic Enterprise Solutions. “We’re combining Panasonic’s expertise in energy solutions with Ericsson’s strength in telecommunications, and the result is networks that are smarter, more efficient and more sustainable. Our batteries’ high energy density, high voltage, lack of memory effect, and flat discharge voltage make for a very stable power supply.”

“Together with Panasonic, we will reduce the cost of energy equipment ownership for targeted Crnogorski Telekom sites by up to 40 percent,” Peter Laurin, Head of Managed Services at Ericsson. “This is primarily a result of Ericsson’s advanced power source selection logic, extended battery life-cycles, and the reduced need for site visits. Our offering is based on an as-a-service business model, which provides Crnogorski Telekom with immediate savings with minimal upfront investment.”

Meanwhile Ericsson also wants us to know that Eastlink, which seems to be a relatively minor player in the Canadian market, has picked it as the lead supplier for its VoLTE and wifi calling efforts.

“Telecom operators are looking for cost-effective solutions to manage the ever-increasing volume of mobile traffic and demand for enhanced services,” said Graham Osborne, Head of Ericsson Canada. “Eastlink is dedicated to delivering the best experience possible to all their customers and this network upgrade will bring immediate improvements and position them well to add future services.”

It will be interesting to see how many more client win stories we get fed ahead of MWC as big vendors try to get some positive narrative momentum going. Ericsson is going to be facing a lot of difficult questions following another disappointing set of quarterly numbers and it will presumably be handy to have a few positive recent anecdotes to draw on.