Is WhatsApp the new competitor of the telephone companies?

whatsapp carriers threatIt seems that WhatsApp, with its 1 billion monthly active users, is a serious threat to carriers incomes. Why? Simple. Let’s see what’s happening. Since WhatsApp is a free application that works through the internet, most of WhatsAppers use the app via a wireless network. In that way they don’t consume their mobile data included in the monthly plan.

Obviously, considering the costant growth of WhatsApp, telephone companies are concerned and certainly furious, and are convinced that the multi-platform app is a damage to carriers life. The problem is bigger than you might think, and a few months ago it even led a Brazilian judge to temporarily suspend the Facebook-owned app after receiving complaints from telecommunications lobbying group.

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That’s what José María Álvarez-Pallete, Telefónica Chief Operating Officer, declared last summer during a telecommunications industry event: “WhatsApp is competing with us, not only with messaging but with voice, too”. Telefónica, which is renowned in Latin America, is not alone in its battle and, along with other carriers, is fighting aganist the predominance of WhatsApp in their countries. In fact it is undeniable that these companies are significantly loosing revenue coming from phone calls and text messages.

And you can find a similar scenario in South Africa too, where there is an actual war against instant messaging applications such as WhatsApp, Viber, Skype and other messaging apps. The carriers that have started this fierce battle are Vodacom Group and MTN Group. The South African companies are convinced that these messaging apps are costing the country a lot of money, and they were so persuasive to induce the telecom regulator to begin an investigation.

Obviously these above are just a few examples of what’s happening around the world, even though a couple of years ago Mark Zuckerberg declared that Facebook was not going to be a competitor but a partner. The statement was followed by contradictory actions particularly in India, were he received many critics by the telecommunications industry.