Are Blackout Days Still Scaring the Mobile Users or Have Remained a Hay for Telecom Operators?
Gone are the days when texting or calling during festivals like Christmas & New Year used to swipe all your mobile balance despite having free or concessional SMS or calls in your mobile account with Telecom Operators observing these days as Blackout days.
Blackout days refers to the festive days like Christmas, New Year and other major festivals when the MNOs/MVNOs and other service providers restrict the concessional or free SMS & voice calls offered under any package or plan. The subscribers are charged at the base rates set by operators for any call made or SMS sent on these days.
Festivals are the days to meet & greet! They mark the increase in buzz in our phones, emails & text boxes, and most important to give a mention about, our Social Media walls and inboxes. Today, the number of mobile devices has now almost surpassed the world’s human population with around 90% of people above 18 years holding a mobile device. While China tops the list of the largest number of smartphone holders after overtaking the US early this year, India is home to the second largest number of smartphones users in the world.
Let’s find out the primary reasons for Blackout Days becoming the talk of the old town:
1. No more than 5 days of Blackout days in a year – A guideline set by a regulatory body, TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) suggests that no operator can observe Blackout days for more than 5 days in a year. This bounds telecom operators to limit the number of Blackout Days to just a few major festivals.
2. Obsoleting Short Message Service (SMS) – With the increase in the number of OTT chat messengers like WhatsApp, Skype, and more texting via SMS has become the talk of the old town. According to a report by a renowned analyst firm the number of messages sent in 2012, more than 23 million plunged by 35%, 15 million in 2015. People today are more inclined towards sending messages via these OTT messengers than SMS.
3. Increasing trends of WhatsApp, Skype & IMO calls – These enticing free chat & calling applications have become the talk of the town now. People now-a-days are more inclined towards making calls and sending texts via these apps rather traditional calling and messaging. One can talk over them uninterruptedly for hours and send as many messaging as they want through just an internet or data pack in their smartphone.
4. Social Media Wishes – Social Media platforms like Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn are the most trending ways these days to interact & connect with family & friends. They have become another great destination for people to chat with & wish their near & dear ones on festivals, birthdays & more.
Also, other guidelines set by TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) are emancipating mobile subscribers from the darkness of Blackout days. According to the regulatory body:
• The charges for SMSs or calls on Blackout days cannot exceed the rate in the tariff plan of the consumer.
• Consumers shall be notified prior the start of Blackout days, the date/ occasion of the Blackout days will also be intimated.
• List of blackout days applicable for the calendar year shall be displayed on the website of operators or service providers, before the start of every calendar year and shall be published, service area wise, along with the tariff plans of the service provider, every six months.
While if we look at the other side of the coin, people are still intended to make voice calls for greeting their near and dear ones abroad on festivals like Christmas, New Year, etc. As voice calls help demonstrate their emotions more intricately than a greeting message sent via an OTT application. However, some free messaging apps also allow you to make voice calls but the impaired quality of calls and connectivity is again drawing people’s attention towards traditional voice calls. Though the increase in the number of calls during festivals results in additional traffic & revenue generation for telecom operators but is not as luring as it used to be before.
Conclusion:- With the advent of OTT (Over-the-top) technology, the free messaging and calling apps are captivating the smartphone users by leaps & bounds. These applications are lurking the traditional SMS and calling trends and so the Blackout Days. They have emancipated the mobile users from the outrage of telecom operators, named Blackout Days and they are not a dismay for users any longer.