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SA among nations with poor voice app experience

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The WhatsApp voice calling experience is ranked poorly in some African countries.
The WhatsApp voice calling experience is ranked poorly in some African countries.

In some African nations, including SA, the overall voice app experience via WhatsApp, Skype and Facebook Messenger ranks largely in the poor and very poor category.

This is according to new data from mobile analytics company Opensignal, which analysed 80 countries to determine the true quality consumers’ experience every day when they communicate via over-the-top (OTT) voice services.

While voice apps are changing the way people communicate, according to the analysis, there is a clear voice experience divide between mature markets and developing countries.

The firm says nearly two-thirds of Latin American countries, along with the vast majority of African and Middle Eastern markets, rated poor or below. However, all the European markets that were analysed, along with the US and Canada, ranked as acceptable or above for voice app experience.

“We analysed 10 African countries in this report and majority of them stacked up on the lower half of our charts. We saw a wide range of scores in this region, which split the countries into four different rankings, with most of them concentrated in the poor and very poor bracket,” explains Hardik Khatri, technical analyst at Opensignal.

Khatri adds: “When we look at voice app experience by technology, users in all African countries enjoyed a better experience while using OTT voice app services – like WhatsApp, and Skype – on their smartphones when connected to 4G.”

Opensignal says its “unique” and “first-of-its-kind” measurement methodology uses a model derived from the International Telecommunication Union-based approach. 

The firm measures voice app experience on a scale of 0-100, with scores falling into the following categories: 95-100 (excellent), 87-95 (very good), 80-87 (good), 74-80 (acceptable), and 66-74 (poor), 60-66 (very poor), 45-60 (unintelligible) and 0-45 (impossible to communicate).

Europe dominates Opensignal’s measure of mobile voice app experience. According to the firm, out of the 80 countries that were analysed for overall voice app experience, 19 achieved a good rating – and only six were from outside Europe.

“These six included some of the usual high-flyers that appear in the top tens for our other metrics, including Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.

“Among the European countries who gained a good ranking in voice app experience were some of the most mature mobile markets including Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark and Hungary. But some other smaller European markets also achieved good ratings, including Slovakia, Croatia and Serbia.

Interestingly, none of the big five European countries – France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK – gained good rankings, with all of these in the acceptable bracket (74-80) for voice app experience, states the report.

When looking at the voice app experience in terms of 3G and 4G networks, Opensignal has determined there is a variation between the user experience as a result of mobile technology.

In SA, mobile operators have been waiting for years for allocation of spectrum for 4G network deployment in order to provide faster and more widespread high-speed data services.

The last big set of spectrum issued was in the 2.1GHz band, which helped the operators in their 3G network deployment.

Opensignal analysis indicates that 3G voice app experience scores are lower in every country compared with their 4G equivalents.

It explains: “Over a third of the countries we analysed ranked as good or above for 4G voice app experience – this is 50% more markets than we saw achieving this rating for overall voice app experience.

“By comparison, our users in only one country, Sweden, enjoyed a 3G voice app experience in the good category. Less than 30% of the countries we analysed secured an acceptable ranking for users when connected on 3G networks, while the majority (38%) rated poor.”

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