A missed call is a telephone call that is terminated by the caller before being answered by its intended recipient, in order to communicate a pre-agreed message without paying the cost of a call. The aim is to request a call back from the person called or to communicate an agreed accepted message. The receiver of the missed calls interprets the message according to the kind of relationship he/she has with the sender and the meaning of past missed calls.
Dr. Jonathan Donner, one of the earliest researcher on missed calls, identifies the behavior as a strategy to communicate at low or no cost to the sender and recipients. According to him, missed calls are of three types: pre-negotiated missed calls, relational missed calls, and call-back missed calls. The call-back is the most common call where the sender sends a missed call to the receiver and the receiver is supposed to reply by making a voice call to the sender and thus pays for the call. This is common practice among parents and children where the children make a missed call to the parent who has to make a voice call in return. Thus the children get to preserve their pre-paid credit. Also, couples resort to this strategy where wives miscall husbands who return the call to save the wives credit. The Pre-negotiated missed calls means that the caller sends a message that is pre-arranged. For example: one miscall could mean “I’ve reached home”, two missed calls could mean “Pick me up” or three missed calls could mean “task completed”. The third kind of missed called are relational missed calls which are more popular among teenagers. For example: one beep could mean “I love you”, two could mean “I am thinking of you” or three could mean “good night”. Such behavior even though beneficial to mobile phone users is considered a considerable threat to service providers as missed calls users the network capabilities without generating revenue and also contributes in clogging the network.
I am leaving a link if you wish to read how people use missed calls: https://forum.wordreference.com/threads/give-me-a-missed-call-misscall-etc.2727483/
For a detailed look at research on missed calls refer to: Donner, J. (2007) The Rules of Beeping: Exchanging Messages Via Intentional “Missed Calls” on Mobile Phones. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. Volume 13: Issue 1 Pgs 1-22.