Stop grumbling about OTTs, conference hears

15 June 2016 |

Stop complaining about the ‘free ride’ the OTT players are getting and start building alliances and finding new business opportunities, was the solid advice of the panel of wholesale experts debating what is driving future investment in Central and Eastern Europe in Warsaw today.

Perica Baskaric, a manager at PWC, led off the discussion by asking what affects market consolidation had had so far on the industry.

Tomáš Strašák, member of the board of Dial Telecom, said: “Consolidation in the market has done a number of things – one is the domination in local markets of three operators. This is difficult, but you can survive if you pick your specialisation well and try to avoid the fetish of keeping up with the ISPs – it’s not necessary. Find out what you do well and stick to it.”

Franz Bader, head of international sales at A1 Telekom Austria, said: “If we try a rudimentary comparison with Europe and the US we see that we are working within a totally different environment. There is huge consolidation in Europe and EU regulation – the US has a lighter touch. In Europe we get nervous when we get down to two operators in a market. So the eventual outcomes are different. For example, we are owned by Telmex and they see many opportunities – particularly viewing telcos as a financial investment. There is no one-size-fits-all markets view. The regulatory environment in Europe is different and in eastern Europe sometimes even stiffer – Byelorussia being a good example.”

Bader also made the point that: “Without people viewing YouTube and using Skype on their smartphones, would the industry have built the expansive fibre networks we have now? We must look for the new opportunities and Microsoft’s purchase of LinkedIn is one of those. They can position the services in a way that we cannot so we must look for the opportunities and not get too worried about their piggy-backing on us.”

The conclusion of the panel was that carriers do not have to compete with the OTTs – they are legitimately using their application layers, and they need the quality that carrier networks can provide. Focussing on network quality and service innovation is the way forward.