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Optus Says Streaming Giants Like Netflix Should Help Shoulder High-Data Costs

Optus CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin says streaming giants such as Netflix should help take the pressure off broadband providers as networks struggle to keep up with data-hungry customers binge-watching TV and movies.

During Optus’ business outlook briefing, Bayer Rosmarin – who joined Optus in April 2020 during the heart of the pandemic in Australia – said streaming services are the biggest drivers of data demand, yet make no direct investment in upgrading networks which aren’t powerful to withstand the increase in data usage.

The telco boss suggested over-the-top (OTT) streaming services should partake in industry conversation and investment around strengthening broadband networks.

“We need some sort of a redefinition of our industry, at the moment there’s a lot of OTT providers, whether video streamers or gaming companies that can have a major impact on the level of infrastructure-build that’s required,” Bayer-Rosmarin said.

“At the moment they see bandwidth usage as a free go.”

At the beginning of the lockdown, Netflix was the first streaming service in Australia to reduce data usage to help combat broadband congestion. Bayer Rosmarin said the impact this had shows just how important a role streaming services play in shaping traffic.

“When those players have that kind of ability, there should be collaboration in the industry to set the right parameters and participation in the infrastructure capital to make sure that isn’t abused,” she added.

Optus hopes the federal government will put pressure on OTT providers to start pulling their weight in the data/broadband arena.

Optus reported a net loss of $27 million for the half year to September 30, compared to $235 million in profit for the same period in 2018.

Overall revenue for the period dropped by 9% to $4.1 billion.

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