The advent of the internet in Uganda is changing the way thousands of mobile phone users communicate with each other. It has brought about a new trend of using Wifi and Mobile data.
The new trend of using wifi and mobile data for voice calling has gained so much popularity lately. Almost overnight, callers have opted to use this service to make regular phone calls.
The trend is growing especially among the youth who make the bulk of internet users and mobile phone subscribersand would feel lost without their smartphones. According to the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) the number of internet subscribers grew from 8 million in 2014 to 13 million in 2015.
Interestingly, there has been a slowdown in the use of traditional voice services according to the 2014/15 UCC Market and Industry report. The on net traffic dropped by 4.8%, (666,908,579 minutes). This was due to the increased cost of voice bundle rates which discouraged many voice bundle subscribers steering them towards finding alternative ways of staying in touch such as WhatsApp and Facebook calling.
The growth in data supported voice calls has also partly been triggered by telecoms companies like; Vodafone Uganda that have come on board to enhance internet calling by enabling their customers access free WhatsApp calls for instance.
Vodafone which has positioned itself as the reliable 4G internet service provider is offering its users Free WhatsApp calls in effort to help its customers to cutback the cost of communication.To enjoy the benefit, all a customer needs to do is recharge their account with a minimum daily voice and data bundle valued at UGX 2,500 which comes with 10 minutes’ worth of talk time across all local networks and for international calls to particular destinations as well as 100MB worth of data.
“With more customers embracing the mobile internet, it makes more sense to encourage use of WhatsApp for voice calls as well considering it presents a more cost efficient way for customers to stay in touch both locally and globally. As Vodafone what we are offering our customers who sign up for our voice and data bundles is free WhatsApp allowing them to use their data for other business,” says Jackie Namara-Rukare, the Head of Marketing, Vodafone Uganda.
Globally, there about 800 million monthly active WhatsApp users. “With Vodafone’s free WhatsApp calls, and the growth of mobile internet usage in Uganda, we expect more Ugandans to ‘press the green button’ and embrace the use of data enabled calling services to be confidently connected,” Namara adds.
According to UCC, the industry registered 0.07% growth in mobile internet subscription from 6,057,148 subscribers in Q2 2015 to 6,463,479 subscribers in Q3 2015. This means that a relatively good number of Uganda’s population can now access features like WhatsApp that provides a cheaper option for voice calls.