HGC’s OTT partnership a “landmark for carriers”

10 October 2012 | Kavit Majithia


Hutchison Global Communications’ (HGC) partnership deal with instant messaging giant WhatsApp will herald a new era for collaboration between carriers and OTT players, says Andrew Kwok, VP international business at HGC.

The WhatsApp application runs over smartphones and allows users to message through 3G, 4G or Wifi connections in the same way as a text message, with relatively little advantages to the carrier despite its widespread usage.

Carriers have often lamented on the fact that they are receiving little benefits of running data-heavy applications, like WhatsApp and VoIP platform Skype over their networks.

Kwok told Capacity the deal is one of the first signs that successful OTT application providers can partner with carriers to ensure both entities can benefit from such an operation. “Up until now, carriers have not been able to enjoy the success of the OTT players because no-one has found a way to collaborate, he said. “I believe this is one of the first times two camps have come together and it is a major coup.”

Running across HGC’s 3 Hong Kong mobile network, the deal allows WhatsApp users to access the service at higher quality for a flat fee, with benefits of using the application while roaming internationally. The world’s first ‘WhatsApp Roaming Pass’ allows customers to connect to WhatsApp in 78 destinations via 93 networks.

Unlike other entrepreneurs and figureheads for OTT providers, WhatsApp’s founder and CEO, Jan Koum, has largely remained out of the limelight.

He said of the deal: “Since launch, WhatsApp has spread virally among smartphone users all over the world. More than 10 billion messages are now delivered everyday and we expect that growth trend to continue. The world’s first ‘WhatsApp Roaming Pass’ will benefit 3 Hong Kong users by providing unprecedented mobility when using WhatsApp abroad.”

Kwok told Capacity the partnership was the first WhatsApp had struck with a carrier.