Telecoms have no choice but to scrap roaming charges

Editor, I READ your article, “Telecom companies willing to scrap roaming charges” (The New Times, May 5) with keen interest.
A man speaks on a mobile phone. Timothy Kisambira.
A man speaks on a mobile phone. Timothy Kisambira.

Editor,

I READ your article, “Telecom companies willing to scrap roaming charges” (The New Times, May 5) with keen interest. 

With Facebook’s $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp – a company with only 55 employees –, I think that local telecom companies are feeling unprecedented pressure all around them 

After the acquisition, Facebook made it clear that WhatsApp is receiving calling features before the end of this year. I would also like to mention that there are endless apps out there designed to revolutionise traditional mobile calling as we know it. 

Take Google, for instance; its Hangouts app is also receiving the same feature before the end of the year. There’s Skype, and even Facebook Messenger (which received an update a few weeks ago). 

I have been lately using Facebook Messenger for calling and all I can tell you is that call quality is quite impressive. It can’t be compared to telecom’s poor quality. 

Since the update, I stopped calling nearly 80 per cent of my contacts using the traditional way of telecom companies. Now imagine how the situation will become once WhatsApp receives the same functionality.

Who will rely on telecoms to place a call? 

There’s also that issue of text messaging. It’s been almost a year since I last sent an SMS. I use WhatsApp and similar apps to do the work for free. They even do it better because I’m able to send multimedia messages (audio, photos and videos) which I can’t with traditional SMS. 

Have you ever heard of MMS? How many of us have used it? It’s a complicated and extremely expensive feature that some people use to send multimedia text messages on the telecoms’ networks.

The only text messages I receive are those ones from telecoms marketing themselves. I and my contacts are power users of the internet, and so we rely on WhatsApp, Google Hangouts and Facebook Messenger. I’m still wondering why SMS isn’t made “free” after all. 

So saying that you’ll scrap roaming charges, I think that you would simply have conceded and admitted that you don’t have any other option than doing that. 

Dear telecoms, Facebook didn’t give $19 billion to WhatsApp as an aid. Your two main sources of income (text messaging and calling) are at stake; treat us better and we will remain loyal to you.

Mutara Intore, Rwanda

 

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