Data Takeover and the Fall of SMS in Australia

In this 3-part blog series, we explore how technology is driving change, growth, and new ways of communicating internationally. Our former intern, Ioanis Gonzalez-Rodriguez, takes a look at technology and communications around the world during his travels during university and post-graduation.

The way we communicate is constantly evolving with technology and societal norms. At Level365, we are focused on cloud-hosted technology that connects, integrates, and improves communications and collaboration. The service we offer, Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), is also constantly changing to meet the diverse and growing needs of our customers. Our service combines traditional voice with UCaaS features including Analytics, Chat, SMS, Video Collaboration, and CRM Integrations and more.

Texting in Australia

Melbourne, Australia, also known as the most livable city in the world, and depending on who you ask, the superior eastern Australian port city (sorry Sydney), is home to 4 and a half million people. Although not as big as NYC, it is just as internationally diverse. In a city where people visit and immigrate from all over the world, unifying communications becomes difficult and costly.

The “G’day mate” saying we all learned to know and love from a toothy crocodile hunter grin can be an expensive text for people visiting Australia from around the world, for some providers reaching up to 50 cents per text. This has led to a fall of SMS usage in Australia. While Australian universities continue to gain international attention, they are attracting the population of the world’s biggest texters. Some universities, like Monash and Melbourne, are bringing in tens of thousands of students from around the world annually. With a wide range of mobile carriers, people are searching for the most convenient and cost-effective way to communicate.

The Rise of WhatsApp

In any university, city street, or night club in Melbourne, anyone can see the transition from SMS to data messaging. It’s more common nowadays for people to exchange information through social media platforms instead of texting to avoid the international rate hassles. The most prominent service used by Australians in major cities is WhatsApp, which has significantly contributed to the fall of SMS in Australia. This application allows texts, pictures, voice messages, and more, all over data (3G, 4G, LTE, and Wi-Fi). 

The advantage of WhatsApp stems from the ability to keep an international number no matter what country someone is in. In addition, there are no international fees to use this number over WhatsApp. Aside from WhatsApp, Facebook messenger follows next with just 200 million fewer users. Australia’s ever-expanding business and cultural relationship with China also brings in thousands of people every year. Along with it bringing in the world’s third and fourth most used data-based messaging applications WeChat and QQ Mobile respectively.

This landscape of communication in Australia, primarily in its major cities like Melbourne, Brisbane, and Sydney, is adapting to this change in population. While the death of SMS in the United States (only 7% of Americans use WhatsApp compared to Australia’s 22%) has been largely an effect of the popularity of the iPhone. The main contributor to the fall is the 1.5 billion users of WhatsApp in 180 countries around the world. iMessage, which also runs on data and able to use over Wi-Fi, is also a major player in this industry. It has been slashing revenue from text messaging from major mobile phone companies since its inception over a decade ago. With the Internet of Things changing communications every day, there is no end in sight for the financial losses of SMS texting.

Other Major Players Enter the Industry

In 2012 Facebook Messenger, iMessage and WhatsApp took over the messaging world. Only 3 years later WhatsApp grew to a 30 billion annual message powerhouse. This is compared to only 20 billion messages sent via SMS the same year. SMS messaging in 2017 was 9.6 billion, which seems like a lot without a comparison. But looking at the 65 billion data texts sent through Facebook and WhatsApp during the same year, it is minuscule. 

Landline to the Cloud

While it may have been hard to imagine that the landline would become obsolete after the rise of mobile phones. It should not be a surprise in the coming years if the same happens to mobile phone numbers themselves. Major cities around the world like Melbourne prove that text communications as we know it are changing drastically every year. While the fall of SMS in Australia is marked, the rise of cloud services and other technologies is more prominent. In a similar fashion, businesses in these same cities are changing from hosted/premise-based communications to more efficient and adaptable Unified Communications services like Level365. People and service providers of communications around the world are living in an age of high-speed innovation and telecom adaptation. This makes switching over to these new systems too late a costly mistake.

About the Author: Ioanis Gonzalez-Rodriguez

Ioanis Gonzalez-Rodriguez grew up in New York and New Jersey and is a recent graduate of Butler University in Indianapolis. Ioanis had several internships during his time at Butler, including a 5-month internship during the Spring of 2019 at Level365.

Over the past 5 months, Ioanis has been fortunate to travel to 5 continents and 11 countries. His original goal was to complete 7 continents in one year, however, his plans changed. He had an unexpected opportunity to come back home to New York City. As a child, Ioanis grew up in a lower-income neighborhood and public school system and would have never dreamed that he would be able to do what he has already done to that point. He first became inspired to travel after getting his first passport junior year of college to study abroad in Australia. After a few weeks in Australia, he realized that one semester was not enough time to fully experience and immerse himself. He decided to extend his abroad program for a full year.

Catching The Travel Bug

After coming back to the United States for his senior year at Butler University, Ioanis reflected and decided he should take the time to travel internationally. He caught the travel bug and there was no better time than now to explore the world. He was young and unattached to a job, relationship, or geographic location and had the experience. The call to travel was strong and felt like a duty that needed to be fulfilled soon or forever lost. One of his biggest take-aways is seeing how different cultures can be from one country to another. Even for countries that are relatively close in proximity. Traveling even a short distance can feel like entering a completely different universe. Another benefit of traveling is that it forces you to leave all your prejudices at the door. And you need to be receptive to learning the ins and outs of that culture. 

Ioanis’ advice on traveling internationally is simple; go and be open to new experiences.

Check out our other features from Ioanis on Singapore and Malaysia.

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