Operators and OTT players to increase collaboration in 2013

31 December 2012 | Kavit Majithia


The market is likely to see bigger collaboration between carriers and over-the-top (OTT) players in 2013 according to a leading industry source.

Since the emergence of OTT players in the market, carriers have struggled to find ways of monetising data-heavy services on its networks.

Leading carriers throughout the year have told Capacity they have had to increase investment spend on infrastructure as a result, with a lack of returns from the cash-rich OTT players.

In recent months the battle between the two sides has intensified with the launch of the joyn Rich Communication Suite messaging service in Spain, but the executive told Capacity that both sides will need to put aside their differences.

“It has actually been one of the biggest misunderstandings of all time,” said Nathan Bell, director of portfolio & marketing at Telstra Global.

“If you look at OTT players their whole goal has been eyeballs; it’s eyeballs because they’re driving advertising and content. The mobile operators have those eyeballs, they have those customers, and it is really a case of finding out how they can start to play together.”

Bell believes both sides can cooperate through agreements to offer different service quality on paid and unpaid apps.

“When you bring in class of service into mobile networks it is a game changer, it’s going to allow the discussion with an OTT to start happening at an equal level and at a level where both parties see value.”

One contentious issue that is seen to be holding back partnerships between OTTs and mobile operators is control of the user experience.

A recent survey conducted by research firm Coleman Parkes on behalf of Amdocs found that 70% of service providers viewed OTT players as potential partners. However, 66% of providers said they must own the user experience and only 14% of OTTs envisioned a future where they cede ownership of the user.

Bell argues that now neither side controls the user experience and instead the power is in the user’s hands as they have the ability to change applications or mobile providers easily.

Through this mindset he believes user experience will become a side issue and instead operators and OTTs will look to cooperate in order to retain customers.