French SMS traffic slumps in Q3, as bundling and OTT apps are blamed

Text messaging in France could be on the slide with 1.69 billion fewer SMSs being sent in the third quarter compared to the second quarter, according to a report from the telecoms regulator Arcep.

Arcep said that while the 43 billion text messages sent in the quarter is higher than the same period a year ago, the third-quarter slump is likely to have been caused by operators aggressively marketing unlimited voice bundles.

While Arcep noted that third-quarter growth has typically been lower than the second quarter over the past few years, this year the decline was more marked, with average monthly SMS traffic per active customer being down over 5 per cent.

Iliad's Free Mobile pioneered low-cost unlimited voice bundles in France earlier this year, and they have since been mimicked by Bouygues Telecom, France Telecom and SFR. Arcep's report indicates that they have damaged operator service revenues and have pushed customers away from SMS, according to La Tribune.

Tariffs now include monthly data plans, often around 3 GB, which are allowing smartphone owners to use social network sites for everyday messaging as against the more cumbersome SMS format. Over-the-top messaging apps from the likes of WhatsApp and Research in Motion's BBM are also thought to have taken growth away from traditional SMS messaging.

For more:
- see this La Tribune article (translated via Google Translate)

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