According to The Verge, Uber is adding voice over internet protocol (VoIP) to the ways customers can reach drivers. The company, which has been trialing this feature since June, announced VoIP’s global availability earlier this month. The announcement also comes as the company continues to cover the map globally.
Used through the Uber app, the VoIP feature enables customers and Uber drivers to use an internet connection to make calls, rather than relying on cell phone services.
Uber currently offers SMS text messages, in-app chats and public switched telephone networks to help customers and drivers connect. However, these methods can sometimes fail, which can lead to a dropped connection between customers and drivers. When this happens, business is lost: “Uber found that cancellation rates spiked when riders couldn’t reach their drivers, or vice versa,” The Verge reports.
Uber engineers have been working with GPS tools to prevent dropped connections, especially in urban settings and crowded areas, The Verge Says. VoIP comes in handy here, as it can be used in areas where “cellular connectivity is spotty at best.”
Aside from being able to cut through static and poor cell service, VoIP is helping customers keep some green in their pockets, too. As VoIP expanded across the globe, users, including Uber, found that data calling was cheaper than cellular calls: “For people traveling abroad, the ability to communicate with a driver using an internet connection is significantly less expensive than a roaming call.”
Plus, Uber drivers are able to stay within the Uber app when coordinating pickups with customers, The Verge says, another benefit to business: “This is important for Uber as it’s combating a rise in cheaper alternatives in the ride-hail market and needs to offer new features and benefits that keep drivers using its app,” The Verge says.