Telegram overtaken WhatsApp in traffic volume in Russia for the first time, the Vedomosti business daily reported Monday.
Experts projected that the Russian-founded messenger will also surpass the user count of its Meta-owned competitor this year.
Telegram represented between 60% and 80% of total traffic exchanged in Russia by the start of 2023. It continued to expand since then, according to an analysis by Russia’s top four telecom operators cited by Vedomosti.
Meanwhile, WhatsApp’s traffic in Russia reportedly remained unchanged over the same period.
“Traffic volume reflects not only the popularity of the service but also how much heavy content — primarily video — users transfer through it,” Vedomosti quoted an unnamed representative of the Beeline provider as saying.
Telegram was developed by Russian-born tech billionaire Pavel Durov, who left Moscow in 2014 following disagreements with the government over user privacy and losing his brainchild, the popular social network VKontakte, to Kremlin allies.
“Telegram is in second place after WhatsApp in terms of the number of users, but Telegram is the fastest-growing messenger,” a representative of the Tele2 provider was quoted as saying.
Telegram’s daily user count totaled 48.8 million people, or nearly 40% of Russia’s internet users, in January 2023, compared to WhatsApp's 76 million daily users.
“Telegram today is much more than a messenger, it’s a full-fledged media [platform] with a large number of channels,” Maria Saykina, an analyst with the Russian Association for Electronic Communications (RAEC), told Vedomosti.