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WhatsApp and Viber are costing phone providers billions

Published: April 18, 2013 | 6:11 pm
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(CNA)- Smartphone owners now have so many apps at their disposal for communicating with friends across the internet for free, reports The Independent.

The mobile carriers who have traditionally been the gatekeepers of our voice minutes and our text bundles have, by virtue of the unlimited data plans that facilitate these apps, loosened their grip on us – and they’re losing money: an estimated £9bn in 2011 and rising. Meanwhile,

Facebook and Google aren’t going to let start-ups muscle in on their territory.

No wonder that Facebook is flexing its muscles. Three weeks ago, British users of its communications app, Facebook Messenger, were suddenly able to make free calls to friends.

Additionally, Facebook has been placing restrictions on competing apps by preventing them , from accessing your list of Facebook friends to check if they’re already using the app. Voxer and MessageMe have found themselves punished in this way.

None of these services are truly free; you pay with information, or time spent looking at adverts. The question that’s going to face consumers is this: would you rather pay a few pence for calls and texts, or allow Google or Facebook to take that responsibility in return for some of your data? As ever, the trade-off between our money and our privacy is a deeply intriguing one.


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