The $1tr OTT opportunity starting right now

The $1tr OTT opportunity starting right now

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Ravindran Mahalingam, HGC's SVP of international business, looks at the evolution of digital and the boom of OTT services, especially within the Asia region where hundreds of millions are online and consuming digital ever more

Isaac Asimov once said: “I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them.” This quote by the 20th century writer and professor of biochemistry was just as valid back then as it is today.

When Asimov spoke of the fear of a hypothetical lack of computers, he was coming out of his own learning process of how to use a computer, after more than 40 years using a typewriter. His conclusion was that humans are fearful of learning new things and naturally retract to what they have learned as children. After all, change can be scary.  But why should we refrain from learning and using new things?

Today, we still have that same fear. We fear the unknown, we fear the lack of enough computers and compute power to continue our digital lives. But the world has leapfrogged and we are experiencing a new age for our species. Our parents and grandparents created the bases for us to revolutionise the world. And this generation has taken on the challenge just as fine as the past ones.

Technological evolution has speeded up year after year and this has propelled a boom in industries and providers such as data centres, telecom operators, over the top (OTT) players, without forgetting all the technology – hardware and software – that exists to support all this and allows people to consume digital. The cycle is only set to speed up further as the months and years go by.

Data has also become the new oil, with IDC predicting the global datasphere will grow from 33 Zettabytes (ZB) in 2018 to 175 ZB by 2025. One vertical that has benefitted tremendously from this revolution is the OTT space, especially in the Asia region. This includes all digital content fit for consumption, for example, from movies to cloud gaming, virtual reality (VR), e-commerce, e-education and e-health.

According to Allied Market Research, the global OTT market size was valued at $121.61 billion in 2019, and is projected to reach an incredible $1,039.03 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 29.4% from 2020 to 2027.

A lot of this growth is propelled by the fast adoption and consumption of services in Asia, where mobile first is a tremendous driver of equality and digital reach across the whole region. The introduction of two fundamental technologies – 5G and edge computing – is and will shape our digital self even more.

These two are enabling a whole new range of OTT revenue generation with ground-breaking applications being launched constantly.  For example, long distance surgeries performed over 5G networks.

In brief, edge computing is essentially bringing the computer power closer to the source of data, or more simply, the user or as I prefer to call it, the eyeball. This has allowed for computational times to be considerably lowered. In its turn, 5G networks are speeding up the sharing of the information across short and long distances.

However, with any type of evolution, there are challenges attached, one being bigger network bandwidth demand. Whether you’re competing for the top prize at an e-sports event in the Philippines or you’re being driven by a driverless car down a street in Beijing, China, network resiliency and extremely low latency are vital to the success of this new OTT market.

The expectation for higher quality of network services is a crucial impact of the boom in OTT services. There are of course applications such as e-health and driverless cars that should take priority on the network due to their life or death consequences versus a mobile game or VR concert.

This is where OTTs need to be aware of the user’s demands for solid service provisioning, which includes direct local network routing to achieve ultra-low latency with the best optimisation and customisation possible. All this whilst supporting an extensive eyeball reach and being able to balance the urgency of service provisioning within the many different use cases.

Take for example an OTT brand that would like to launch and extend services to more than five regions – let’s say Hong Kong, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia. This company needs to, in a short period of time, deliver its services by establishing hundreds of servers and reach over 10 million end users.

The best solution here is the usage of an ICT aggregator who acts as a single point of contact for OTTs and provides an established infrastructure portfolio, connected to local ISPs and MNOs, to reach the needed amount of eyeballs very quickly.

Such aggregator services are no longer a mirage and are right now connecting millions of users to the content and services they want, not only in Asia, but all around the world.

Ultimately, feeling fear is part of the fun of delving into the unknown, and as we reinvent ourselves and our societies, we shall not fear but embrace the advancements in the digital space that will help us live better, be more informed and access what before was a far reach for many.

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