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MWC: Robocall spam booms

Hiya estimates global spam calls grew 325% to 85 billion worldwide.

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The first Global Robocall Radar Report, released by Hiya at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, estimates that global spam calls grew 325% to 85 billion worldwide.

The data, based on an analysis of more than 12 billion calls per month worldwide, concluded that, while unwanted calls are prevalent in the United States, they are also growing rapidly at a global level.

Hiya’s Global Robocall Radar found that Spain, the UK, Italy, France, Argentina and the United States top the list of countries hit the hardest by nuisance and fraudulent calls.

“As spam calls continue to skyrocket globally, the demand for protection from unwanted phone calls has increased drastically,” said Alex Algard, CEO of Hiya. “By combining industry-leading call spam detection with a solution that ensures calls from legitimate businesses are properly identified, it’s our mission to make sure everyone across the world can confidently answer their phone again.”

With nearly 60 million monthly active users worldwide, Hiya protects consumers from unwanted calls in every country in the world. Global partnerships with carriers like AT&T, T-Mobile, and OEMs like Samsung have helped to elevate Hiya’s leadership position for identifying nuisance and fraudulent calls. In 2018 alone, Hiya identified more than 1.3 billion calls as spam, blocking more than 425 million of them.

Top 10 Countries With the Biggest Phone Spam Problem

For the top 10 countries with the biggest spam problem, below is a breakdown of the percentage of incoming calls that are not “saved to contacts” and are identified as spam (Spam Rate), in addition to the average number of monthly spam calls per user.

1). Spain:

  • Spam Rate: 24%
  • Monthly Spam Calls Per User: 9

2). UK:

  • Spam Rate: 22%
  • Monthly Spam Calls Per User: 7

3). Italy:

  • Spam Rate: 21%
  • Monthly Spam Calls Per User: 6

4). France:

  • Spam Rate: 20%
  • Monthly Spam Calls Per User: 7

5). Argentina:

  • Spam Rate: 10%
  • Monthly Spam Calls Per User: 3

6). United States: 

  • Spam Rate: 10%
  • Monthly Spam Calls Per User: 7

7). Mexico:

  • Spam Rate: 9%
  • Monthly Spam Calls Per User: 6

8). Brazil:

  • Spam Rate: 9%
  • Monthly Spam Calls Per User: 8

9). Chile:

  • Spam Rate: 9%
  • Monthly Spam Calls Per User: 4

10). Australia:

  • Spam Rate: 6%
  • Monthly Spam Calls Per User: 2

Most Prevalent Spam “Campaigns” Worldwide:

  • Bank Account Scam: Callers pretend to be an official representative of the bank and request sensitive information or items which will allow them to access the victim’s bank account.
  • Extortion/Kidnapping: These scammers call random phone numbers and demand payment for the return of a “kidnapped” family member or friend.
  • Credit Card Scam: Thieves will trick victims out of their personal information. They might call, posing as their bank, to “assist” while phishing for card details. Random scammers might even call hotel rooms acting as the front desk to “confirm” credit card details.
  • Wangiri Scam (“One Ring”): For years, the Wangiri scam, also known as the ‘One-Ring Scam,’ has been preying on victims and enticing them to call back international numbers. The victim in this case does not realize that they’re being charged for premium rates.
  • Neighbor Scam: Phone fraudsters use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) software to mimic (also known as spoofing) the first few digits of a user’s phone number to trick consumers into thinking a nearby friend or business is calling.

Hiya analyzes more than 12 billion mobile calls per month globally and then leverages its proprietary rule-based algorithm to identify these calls for consumers. Hiya’s Global Robocall Radar is calculated by extrapolating the total number of unwanted robocalls detected among Hiya’s user base as compared to the entire global population of mobile subscribers.

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Vodacom cuts cost of smallest bundle by 40%

The country’s largest mobile operator has kept to a promise made last month to slash the price of entry-level data packages

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Vodacom has cut the data price of its lowest-cost bundle by 40%, reducing the price of a 50MB 30-day bundle from R20 to to R12. This follows from the operator’s promise in March, when it announced a 33% cut in the cost of 1GB bundles, to reduce prices of all smaller bundles by up to 40%.

Vodacom’s various 30-day data bundle prices will be cut across all of its channels, with the new pricing as follows:

30-day bundle size New Price Reduction
50MB R12 40%
150MB R29 33%
325MB R55 33%
500MB R79 21%
1GB R99 34%
3GB R229 23%
5GB R349 14%
10GB R469 22%
20GB R699 31%

Vodacom confirmed it will provide free data to access essential services through Vodacom’s zero-rated platform ConnectU with immediate effect. The value of these initiatives, it says, is R2.7-billion over the next year.

“Vodacom can play a critical role in supporting society during this challenging time and we’re committed to doing whatever we can to help customers stay connected,” says Jorge Mendes, Chief Officer of Vodacom’s Consumer Business Unit. “Since we started our pricing transformation strategy three years ago, our customers have benefitted from significant reductions in data prices and the cost of voice calls. Over the same period, we invested over R26 billion in infrastructure and new technologies, so our customers enjoy wider 2G, 3G and 4G coverage and vastly increased data speeds.”

The latest data reductions will complement the discounted bundle offers that will also be made available to prepaid customers in more than 2,000 less affluent suburbs and villages around the country. For qualifying communities to access further discounted voice and data deals, they need to click on the scrolling ConnectU banner on the platform via connectu.vodacom.co.za

ConnectU – which is a zero-rated platform – also went live this week. It will provide content aimed at social development and offers a variety of essential services for free. Learners and students enrolled in schools and universities can access relevant information for free, with no data costs. The ConnectU portal includes a search engine linked to open sources such as Wikipedia and Wiktionary as well as free access to job portals; free educational content on the e-School platform; free health and wellness information and free access to Facebook Flex, the low data alternative to Facebook that enables customers to stay socially connected.

Vodacom’s popular Just4You platform has been a significant contributor to the approximately 50% reduction in effective data prices over the past two years. Substantial cuts in out-of-bundle tariffs and the introduction of hourly, daily and weekly bundles with much lower effective prices have also driven increased value and affordability, resulting in R2-billion in savings for customers in 2019.

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OneBlade shaves price of electric precision

Electric razors and their blades are usually quite expensive. But the Philips OneBlade shaves the cost, writes SEAN BACHER

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Electric razors come in all shapes and forms and their prices vary as well. When your nearest electronic retail outlet opens again, you will be able to pay a small fortune for a wet and dry razor that cleans itself, shows you when it needs to be recharged, and tells you to replace the cleaning solution – all via a little LCD panel in the handle.

But does everyone want that? Does everyone need that? Surely there must be customers who want an easy-to-use, no-mess, no-fuss razor that gets the job done just as well as a “smart razor”?

With this in mind, Philips has launched its OneBlade wet and dry electric razor. The razor is dead simple to use. It comes with three stubble combs – 1mm, 3mm and 5 mm –  which can be clicked onto the head much like one would with a hair shaver. Should you want a really close shave, simply the combs off. I found this to be the most effective as I don’t have a beard.

The razor’s blade is the size of the striking side of a matchbox and has 90-degree angles all round. This offers precise shaving and, because of its small size, it is able to get just about anywhere on a person’s face.

The blade has a usage indicator that shows when it is time to replace the blade – usually after four months – and an additional blade is included in the box.

The OneBlade’s battery takes up to eight hours to charge, and will give up to 45 minutes shaving time.

Overall, the Philips OneBlade will give a man a comfortable and precise shave. Its battery life, combined with its size, makes it a perfect travel companion as it is no bigger than an electric toothbrush. Its relatively low price compared to other electric razors also counts in its favour.

The One Blade can be bought from most electronic retailers or can be ordered online from websites like takealot.com. The razor retails for R650 and a set of two new blades will cost around R450.

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