Operators and OTT Players: Collaboration is Key

June 14th, 2012
Charlie Vogt, President and CEO of GENBAND


Since Internet-based service providers, better known as Over the Top (OTT) players, emerged as potential revenue threats to operators a few years ago, the telecommunications industry has struggled to place OTT entities in the proper competitive context.

Initially, this new group of service providers was tagged as foes, direct and immediate threats to revenue operators generate beyond basic transport services. In recent years, however, the concept of OTTs as collaborators, or at least the source of value-added services and new revenue for telecom operators, has gained some traction among a significant community of carriers.

Though mobile and fixed operators have no plans to surrender revenue generated from traditional services, such as voice and messaging – VoLTE being the most recent evidence of their resolve on this topic – they wisely recognize that they cannot compete with the OTT universe on a service-by-service basis. OTTs, they acknowledge, have a few things going for them: well-established subscriber universes, speed of deployment, freedom from many of the restrictive regulations that constrain operators, higher scale to monetize their content and services and a proven advertising-based revenue model. In short, most operators understand that it would be folly to try to beat the most prominent OTTs at their own game.

At the same time, the entire industry recognizes the unsustainability of a business model that depends on operators continually upgrading their networks to the benefit of OTTs that offer applications that ride over the top of that infrastructure. Just as a friend will soon grow weary of a frequent dinner companion who never picks up the check or offers to pay for at least their share of the meal, operators are rightfully seeking some measure of compensation for the infrastructure they provide.

Instead of waving a white flag in the face of this competitive threat, operators are working hard to retain the loyalty of subscribers by leveraging the unique assets that separate them from the OTTs. Customer knowledge, the ability to move sessions seamlessly between fixed and mobile devices, the ability to create a higher Quality of Experience and the promise of universal compatibility – even between the closed systems of OTT-based services – all will enable forward looking service providers to deliver customer value that OTT's alone cannot match.

At GENBAND, we are empowering operators to effectively leverage and bring enhanced value to OTT services -- by enabling functionality that bridges the two worlds --  and increasing customer loyalty by creating a unique and personalized subscriber experience. Using GENBAND’s powerful infrastructure and its multimedia applications, operators can provide subscribers with compelling capabilities, such as a single address book and persona capabilities that provide a unified communications experience across all devices, operating systems and even social networking sites.

Ultimately there is tremendous potential for operators and OTTs to work together, not only for their sake but for the benefit of end users. Some of the greatest collaboration in music history – The Beatles' Lennon and McCartney; Mick and Keith of the Rolling Stones – sometimes had testy relationships. But when they came together for commercial and artistic reasons, the whole world benefited.

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