Unlimited Cellular Voice

by Colin Berkshire

Colin here.

What is happening to your voice traffic?

I recently was talking with a telcom guy and asked what the trend was for voice traffic. I suspected  our data traffic was declining, but how much?

Getting at these numbers isn’t as easy as it used to be. We no longer bill internally for long distance, so we don’t have the interdepartmental telcom billing program to give us usage reports. (We used to be able to see usage by department, building, region, etc. But now that it isn’t billed we don’t get that stuff.)

After almost two weeks the telcom guy got back to me. He had gotten somebody in the IT department to randomly sniff packets at the gateway and he took random samples to determine how much was voice and VOIP and how much was other data. I’m not a traffic sniffer expert, but I get the concept that through what they called “stateful packet inspection” they can determine what is going through the gateway. I’m not sure if it gets all the voice enabled messaging apps.

I’m always one to want numbers to be “sanity checked” and when the stats came in they knew they had better check things because the numbers looked funny. The very simple answer was that our voice traffic was way, way down. The total number of calls, the total CCS per station, our monthly billings, the number of minutes of toll-free that we are charged…all of it is way down.

It is very difficult with the level of reporting that our company has to compare traffic this year with 5 or 10 years ago. In part, it is measured differently, in part we have moved a lot of functions around between facilities and countries, and in part we don’t have a lot of the old historical records.

But an educated guess seems to be that our voice traffic seems to be down about 25% to 40% from what it was five years ago. Our headcount isn’t much different. So that would lead me to believe we’re talking less on the phone than we used to.

We don’t have great stats on this one. So I would love to hear what measurements and experiences others are seeing in their organizations. Is this a general trend of voice traffic being in decline?

I guess it makes sense that it would be in decline when the cell phone companies are offering flat-rate unlimited calling packages so willingly. There’s lots of ways to get free voice, and that’s probably the right tactic when consumption is declining.