Integrated data products making paid voice calls redundant?

In recent months we have seen more than one major service provider releasing integrated data products that include a VoIP component with a certain value of voice minutes being advertised as “free of charge” to clients. We first saw the release of this new integrated product with major VoIP provider VOX Telecoms and more recently, as announced by MyBroadband, Telkom has also released such a product.

What is the purpose of this?
If we take a look at where broadband and voice are moving towards, it becomes clear that the use of data is increasing while the use of voice is decreasing steadily. As a result of this change in usage, major service providers are being forced to change the way they sell their products and pricing them correctly according to what the market requires, thus, providers who have inherently been focused on the voice markets are now becoming more data focused.

Are these products completely free?
Whilst the voice minutes may be free locally, nationally and to certain international destinations, these companies are still making money as any business needs too, only differently. When we take a look at VOX’s uncapped voice package, we clearly see that there is still a charge for calls based on the number of concurrent calls made in increments of 5, 10 and 15 calls. With Telkom’s announcement of its free call products, we aren’t certain at this time how they are packaged, however, we can be certain that the money will be made up somehow in terms of their connectivity or data charges on their respective packages.