Visafone Communications Limited, a wholly owned Nigerian telecoms company, has launched Voice SMS across Nigeria. The Voice SMS solution has been sourced from Kirusa, a provider of Voice SMS and developer of mobile value added services.
For Visafone, the key advantages of Voice SMS are that it allows subscribers to send messages by voice, eliminating the need to type. Subscribers can communicate faster, with greater ease, and can convey emotions as compared to the limitations of text messages. Use of Voice SMS by mobile subscribers has spread rapidly across the globe.
Visafone subscribers need to dial ‘*' followed by the mobile number and speak a short message for 30 seconds in the language of their choice. A recipient on Visafone network gets an SMS message from the sender, and can dial *0* to hear new voice messages. He can directly retrieve a specific message by dialling a DirectListen number in the message. He can also retrieve previously listened to voice messages by dialling *1*.
A recipient on another mobile network will get an SMS message from the sender, which he can retrieve by directly dialling a DirectListen number in the message. Voice SMS messages can be replied to, forwarded, saved, or deleted. Visafone subscribers pay a price of approximately US$0.1 for on-net and approximately US$0.14 for off-net messaging to send the messages within Nigeria. First retrieval of a Voice SMS message is free. Subscribers are charged roughly US$0.12 per second for subsequent retrievals.
Vinod Shah, COO of Visafone, analysed the market for Voice SMS, "We believe that Voice SMS has great potential in Nigeria. It has a broad appeal across segments. Young Visafone subscribers will find this service a great way to connect with friends. Older subscribers will find it appealing for its ease of use and customised services. This service will empower Nigerians at all literacy levels to send short messages that will convey meanings and feelings in the way the sender wants it interpreted. It will also address the issue of not knowing what to write in an SMS as spoken words are more expressive".
Visafone's Voice SMS service is available to all its prepaid and postpaid subscribers. To deliver the service, Kirusa has deployed its Voice SMS application, integrated with the Voxpilot Open Media Platform, in Visafone's nationwide mobile network.
Taranjit Singh Batra, VP Sales of Kirusa said, "The Kirusa Voice SMS has proved successful in multilingual markets and we hope to replicate this success in Nigeria. We believe the availability of this service, its user-friendliness and flexibility will present a great attraction for the people of Nigeria."
* Visafone Communications Limited is a wholly-owned Nigerian telecommunications company incorporated on June 20, 2007 following the acquisition of Cellcom. Visafone received its Unified Access Service licence as a telecom operator from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on August 1, 2007. Less than two months after its registration Visafone was announced the Approved Bidder for the three carriers in the 800 MHz spectrum put on auction by the NCC which allowed it roll out its mobile services (voice and broadband internet) across Nigeria. Visafone has rolled out a 3G RevA CDMA network in Nigeria and has garnered 2.5 million subscribers in just ten months.