Will Facebook’s VoIP service replace traditional phone calls?

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Facebook wants to take over the world. We all know that. The social media colossus recently made its next strategic move to do just that by enabling free voice-over-IP (VoIP) calling for iOS and Android in quite a few countries, including the US and Canada. The only thing needed is Facebook Messenger and a decent wifi or cellular connection.

What’s the big deal, you ask?

For most people, probably nothing at all. For those of us with family abroad, though, it could mean all the difference. Facebook’s end-game is connecting people all around the world while lining its own pockets with a mountain of cash from ad revenue gained through Messenger. Meanwhile, we get to make calls for free. Sounds like a bargain.

VoIP calls include video, and Facebook says the quality of the call will be adjusted in parallel with the quality of your connection. Another neat feature allows one caller to shut down their video feed so the other participant has better quality. For international calls between users with radically different connections, it could be extremely helpful.

The Pros and Cons of Facebook Messenger’s free VoIP calling

Pros:

  • Totally free VoIP calls
  • Automatic scaling for quality
  • Ability to turn off video to give the other person higher quality
  • Potential for group calling in the future
  • Easier to connect with people around the globe

Cons:

  • Eats a ton of data (although Facebook is working on different options to reduce data usage and make sure users know how much they’re using)
  • Mobile users can’t video chat with desktop users (for now)
  • Messenger might send automatic notifications in order to push the service (they say it won’t be too invasive, but it’s difficult to see how that wouldn’t be annoying)

Free VoIP calling probably won’t bother anybody who doesn’t use Messenger or people who don’t often make calls anyway. People who already use FaceTime may or may not care to try a new system, especially if it doesn’t many new features.

How many of us still make phone calls, anyway?

A lot of us have evolved toward texting, and texting only, but according to Facebook their VoIP calls already account for 10% of global VoIP traffic. What about you? Do you care about Facebook Messenger’s free VoIP calling, or is it just another pointless innovation from the social media giant?

About Author

Jeff is a self-proclaimed pragmatic futurist; that is, he has high hopes for absurd life-altering technologies which sound too good to be true, and probably are. Although he writes on a variety of subjects, his real passion is for technological innovation and the people who make it happen. By day, he enjoys fuzzy bunnies, kittens, puppies, roller coasters and a sardonic written word or two. By night, he's busy running memyselfandrobot.com, replaying a random Final Fantasy game, or pretending to be Batman. He currently resides in Upstate NY.

1 Comment

  1. samir@delanyco.com'

    I don’t think Facebook will replace traditional phone calls because you can only call someone else on facebook. It still remains a walled-garden application. The real problem lies in having to use lots of different messaging apps to communicate. For any kind of messaging VoIP or not, it should be like a telephone call, where it doesn’t matter which provider I use, I can still call anyone regardless of who they use no?