The Death of Voice: Mobile phone calls now 50 per cent shorter
'Did you get my email?' 'Yes' 'Oh'
Vodafone reckons the average duration of phone calls on its network has halved in five years. People now talk for around one minute and forty seconds, rather than over three minutes.
The figure was calculated from both business and consumer customer data in fifteen main Vodafone markets, the network's business services director Kenneth De Spiegeleire told us.
In some less mature markets the duration of a mobile voice call followed in an inverse relationship to its cost. As the cost of talking fell, people talked more - no surprise there. But not in all markets. One study in Kenya showed no increase in phone call length between 2002 and 2007 - people used their mobiles more, but used them to text.
The duration of fixed line phone calls has been falling consistently for some years. Now voice appears to be doing the same. Phone-in polls such as the Strictly ballot encourage short calls. We shall try and find more.
Shorter phone calls are good news for the operator, of course, provided you're on a postpay plan. Once you've paid your fee, you're simply using contested resources - which are even more contested with the explosion of mobile data.
According to Ofcom last year was the first when the volume of text messaging fell in the UK. With the range of messaging alternatives on offer to the mobile user today - IM, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, and OTT services such as WhatsApp - it's surprising it took so long. ®
Call Lenth vs Call Cost
I did a lot of work on this in the 1970s, (not in the UK) automating the production of average call duration distribution data when calls were metered rather than computer recorded.
My studies found that the more expensive the call the longer it lasted, this rule was across all call classes, even international.
During down turns the pattern was even more marked and it became easier to see what happened.
Un-metered calls (or calls that were part of a package) were a don't care element. If you wanted information you made a call, sometimes for a few seconds hung up and called again later.
If times were tight, you made a list of items, then made a call, often towards the end of the day and asked all that you wanted to ask before getting the information and hanging up.
Traffic was often crammed into a shorter period of time towards the end of the international overlap causing the busy period to be far busier and later than normal. It played hell with the economics of dimensioning back then so congestion often resulted. Perversely, when things improved, we had more paid time and less congestion as traffic was better spread out.
Observing my children and their friends, calls are ridiculously short. They seem to treat speaking as an extension of texting, and employ the same brevity. It can be quite shocking for us old 'uns, as it often (from our perspective) comes across as incredibly rude - e.g.
Daughter: Do you want to come round?
Friend: No (end of call).
1 min later
Mother of friend: I'm sorry - X was so rude. She can't come round as we're just off to see her gran.
Cue agreement from me and the wife, head-scratching from daughter...
Basically the same.
My nephews always laugh at me writing a text, because I always write in full sentences, no text-abbreviations, and I often go back and re-write something to make sure it is grammatically correct. I also always sign the text. They once showed me that they could convey the same information with a quarter of the characters, but I'm old-fashioned enough to think it is rude not to write properly. (Though I bet there is a grammar a spelling mistake in here somewhere!)