Social media and social networking have already had a significant impact on the way consumers communicate with one another. While it was assumed social networking would only replace email traffic, a new survey by Ovum finds it is also replacing more traditional forms of communication like the landline. The metered portion of telcos’ voice and messaging revenues and their increasingly outdated pricing models will come under pressure as a new wave of substitution to social media applications threatens the telecoms market, says Ovum, in a new report based on a survey of UK consumers. Forty-five per cent of respondents claimed that social media had caused a decline in their use of email. Moreover, 40 percent said that it had reduced their use of fixed voice services, 34 percent said it caused them to make fewer mobile phone calls, and 29 percent said the number of text messages they send had declined. Mark Giles, Ovum telecoms senior analyst and co-author of the report, points out the trend is being driven by the younger age groups. “While it could be argued that younger users will change their habits with age and trend towards the habits of older users who are more reliant on traditional forms of communication, it would be naive to assume this. This is because players such as Facebook are constantly innovating, and are likely to increase their communications capabilities.” Neha Dharia, Ovum analyst and co-author of the report, says the functional development and increasing availability of social networking platforms on mobile devices is seeing communication via social media eat into more traditional forms of communication such as voice. The Ovum analysts say telcos had a mixed response to the trend. Some are offering more inclusive minutes and text messages at lower prices. Others sought to charge a levy on over-the-top applications, such as Whatsapp and Skype, that reduce operator revenue and use a significant amount of bandwidth. Dharia says other operators are adopting a wait and watch approach but expects this stance to change in the “as the battle for voice and messaging heats up.”
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