Verizon reports handling twice as many calls per day as what would occur on a typical Mother's Day!
Thanks to the nightmare of the coronavirus pandemic, phone calls are making a comeback. While internet usage is up, video game usage has drastically increased, and people are more #Online than ever before, another surprising trend has emerged: the return of the phone call.
Verizon says it's now handling an average of 800 million phone calls per day. This is more than twice the average number of calls made on the busiest call day of the year—Mother's Day, apparently. In a statement, AT&T says call volume is up 35 percent, while the number of calls made via WiFi has nearly doubled.
“We’ve become a nation that calls like never before,” said FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. “We are craving human voice.”
But it's not just how often we're calling each other—it's how long we're staying on the phone. Verizon says the average length of voice calls has increased 33 percent from pre-pandemic averages.
“For years, we’ve seen a steady decline in the amount of time people spend talking to one another, especially on wireless devices,” Verizon chief technology officer Kyle Malady said in a statement. “The move to staying at home has reignited people’s hunger to stay connected, voice to voice.”
Just six months ago, The Telegraph reported that a quarter of cell phone users make less than five calls per month. Now, this is changing. Defying the insurmountable emotional distance created by technology that's seen lengthy conversations winnow over time, this emotional aloofness has fallen out of style in the era of social distancing. People are talking to each other again.
In addition to the quantity and duration of our phone calls, call frequency has also changed. In the past, call volume peaks in the morning and during the evening rush hour, AT&T executive VP of Technology Operations Chris Sambar says. Now, he says, calls are continuing throughout the workday, rather than dropping off once we usually arrive at work or school. Whether this is due to connectivity issues with videoconferencing platforms or whether it's a reflection of mass rates of unemployment, our habits are changing. Sambar says call traffic on weekends is also much higher than normal, perhaps due to the reality of being stuck indoors and unable to engage in real-life social plans. Defying space, time, and previously ingrained social norms, we'll always find a way to connect with each other.
According to a news release from Match Group (parent company of Tinder, Hinge, OkCupid, PlentyOfFish, and Match.com), dating apps are witnessing this phenomenon as well.
"This pandemic has reminded everyone of the deep importance of human connections and relationships. The sadness we all feel without the ability to connect with people and see them in real life is profound," says Match Group CEO Shar Dubey.
The company says it's seen the length of conversations increase by 10-30 percent since the virus outbreak began. Hinge says it's also seen the number of messages increase by more than 30 percent in March compared to February and January averages.
Tinder echoed this sentiment in a message released to users on its platform: "Social distancing doesn't have to mean disconnecting. In the last week, we've seen longer chats from our members in areas most impacted by COVID-19—and we know there's a lot to say to each other as we all do our best to stay healthy and prevent the spread of the coronavirus." The message then continued to remind users of the importance of social distancing in real life.
Free expansion of the platform's Passport feature has also led to users changing their location to regions most impacted by the virus and building connections with people far away—since we're all trapped indoors anyway, physical distance matters less.
Thankfully, in these complicated times, it's never been easier to stay connected.
How are you staying connected to the important people in your life? Stay safe and stay healthy.