SingTel chief calls for right to charge OTT challengers Skype and WhatsApp

Is she joking? As a telco, with that massive infrastructure and fundings, if you fail to innovate then don’t put the blame on creative innovators for your lost. Instead of charging, go put your investments to it.

singtel chief

SingTel chief executive Sock Koong Chua has urged regulators to give carriers like Optus the right to charge rivals such as WhatsApp and Skype for use of their networks or risk a major decline in network investment.

At the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona, Ms Chua praised Australia’s regulatory market as one of the few countries in the world to allow a foreign player to have total ownership of a telco provider.

SingTel owns Optus, which is Australia’s second largest provider of telecommunications services. It invested almost $1 billion during financial year 2013 in its fixed-line and mobile networks.

But she warned such investments would be slashed around the world and would not continue unless regulators allowed them to start charging over-the-top rivals such as WhatsApp for using their networks.

WhatsApp was bought by Facebook last week for $US19 billion ($21 billion) and provides free messaging services to its 450 million users. The rise of companies like it have helped cut revenues from phone calls and text messaging at traditional carriers like Optus.

“The main problem we have as an industry is we have been unable to monetise this increased demand . . . and [average revenue per user] has fallen over time,” she said. “I think the pace of change in our industry is relentless so clearly we can’t afford to stand still.

“If we are not careful we could stand the risk of being totally disintermediated.”

She called on regulators to allow carriers to detect and charge OTT players when their services were being provided over the network. While Telstra has experimented with such moves, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission considers it to be anti-competitive.

But Ms Chua said the solution was not to simply levy companies like WhatsApp but to become their partners.

“Our ambition must be to become the preferred network partners of customers and OTT players,” she said. “We must create sustainable revenue models.”

Her comments echoed those of Optus head of networks Vic McClelland who told The Australian Financial Review earlier this year the company was working to provide priority services at a cost for customers wanting better access to streaming video services like YouTube.

The author travelled to the Mobile World Congress courtesy of Huawei

Source: The Australian Financial Review


Leave a Reply