Liquid telecoms, one of the leading private communications solutions providers in Eastern, Central and southern Africa, recently launched a VOIP service dubbed Next Generation Voice.
The service is perceived as a new phone service that literally is the next generation of landline with the pretext of high quality digital calls over super-fast fiber optic network compared to analogue copper wires.
Whilst the nation celebrates such a milestone by Liquid Telecom, it’s of paramount importance to warn them against complacence, its not over yet but they just got started. Some other local players had gone ahead of them with little to no real success lest they celebrate prematurely.
By Tongai Mwenje
It’s true that this service will offer unmatched voice clarity and reliability at a much better price, saving approximately up to 90% of voice call bills and 35% on data.
The difference in call clarity and reliability, as well as all the value-added business services means Next Generation Voice is going to be an indispensable platform that will improve business communications and productivity.
After all that has been said, it’s also imperative to warn the telecoms giant not to be complacent as this service is not entirely new in Zimbabwe. We have seen local IAsP like Africom throwing almost the same service in the local market which they branded Guroo, but to what extent has that service been a success?
How many of you have deserted their GSM voice platform for Guroo? For fixed telephone, quite a number of corporate world is still fixed on the copper cables and only a serious culture shift will persuade them to move over to the next cheaper technology.
What penetration and consumption rate is Africom Guroo sitting on?Not a big percentage because it’s a service that still need a culture shift of the consumer’s imagination hence not popular with the local market.
There are many other third party applications that make VoIP calls a reality without necessarily needing the hardware for the next generation, these are world wide known applications like Skype, Viber and Whatsapp.Top among them is the WhatsApp calling which the consumer or retail market have already embraced, but still less than 30% of the nation appreciates the technology mainly because of the data cost factor, worse off on mobile.
Let this ring into the provider’s management and marketing ears that in as much as the service is cheaper, reliable and convenient, people are still engrossed in their GSM networks. Convincing them to dump their GSM networks for VOIP will require a guerrilla approach of marketing hence Liquid Telecoms mustn’t be contented with the launch but to focus on the execution of the service.
Ofcourse, for players like Africom and Powertel who are already campaigning for VoIP, the major impediment against the VoIP success in Zimbabwe has been the provision of Hardware to support the technology.
The Liquid Telecom team may win this one through their next generation provided phones, a move that may even bolster their ISP ZOL Zimbabwe in market penetration.
Besides the failure by locals to appreciate VOIP service, there is a competition aspect from other IAPs who are already into the technology. VOiP is indisputably going to be the most big thing in the communication system nd this is where every player will soon centralize their focus on.
Remember, Whatsapp recently introduced such service to its millions of subscribers across the globe posing the biggest threat in that ecosystem. Most Zimbabweans went craze when the service was first introduced sometime in April this year, though operators are currently sabotaging it through poor connectivity bandwidth and cost factor.
Liquid Telecoms through its retail company, ZOL, needs to up their Next Generation Voice marketing strategy lest they face the same luke warm response.
According to researches, the service is also yet to be implemented in some parts of the developed nations signifying it’s newness in the technology ecosystem.
Yes, Liquid Telecom has made groundbreaking success not just in Zimbabwe but even across Africa, but there is an English proverb which says ‘Saying is one thing and doing another’. So we hope this will go a long way in changing business communication and improving productivity.
The service has got lots of benefits among them, communication bill reduction, offers per second billing, no disruptions in bad weather and its upgrade-ability.