week an interviewer asked me, “How will the carriers combat OTT?” Well, from a
certain point of view, OTT apps aren’t the enemy. They drive traffic on the
data part of the mobile network, which drives revenue for the mobile network
operators. It’s the pricing plans that are the enemy.
I think the root of the question was really about OTT players taking revenue
away from carriers. This Ovum report excerpt references a $479 billion
loss in revenues over the course of the past eight years due to VoIP OTT
players. And this Light Reading blog
Ovum research, as well, indicating $54 billion lost in messaging revenues to
OTT social messaging apps.
is one to do? First of all, as I’ve recommended numerous times, carriers should
embrace the model by garnering revenue from advertisements. It’s a different
model for sure, but it worked for Google. It just takes different thinking. I
see ads when I play free versions of games on my iPad, but the gaming company
is most likely driving that ad. The carriers themselves could do a lot more. In
fact, ways for carriers to monetize OTT was a hot topic at CTIA this
carriers understand and can offer end-to-end quality of service. An OTT app isn’t
oriented to understand that. Maybe the carriers could offer a higher quality of
service that you’d be willing to pay for. (Depending, of course, on the right
price, my friends.)
are also partnering with OTT providers or trying to create their own OTT apps. I
don’t know if these are truly long-term solutions, though they are options that
alleviate the burn.
can also help. Carriers can create their own click-to-call apps and build them into
the smartphones they ship, so that they can get back to owning the subscriber.
WebRTC potentially gives them the power to do this again. Then they can offer
priority service, as an example, maybe even going so far as to run the voice
calls on the 3G network if the IP voice call quality is degrading.
the end, the carriers that embrace these changes and figure out how to exploit
them will be better off. Just look to the Internet world for inspiration.