Telco’s To Charge For WhatsApp?
Speaking at the Mobile World Congress this week, Singtel CEO Chua Sock Koong, called on regulators to allow telcos to charge OTT players, as revenues from SMS and voice calls continues to fade.
“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 told the MWC in Barcelona, as telcos continue to scratch their heads on how to make money out of services that leapfrog mobile networks, after investing billions in upgrading to 4G LTE infrastructure.
“Our ambition must be to become the preferred network partners of customers and OTT players.”
But she warned, “we must create sustainable revenue models.
“If we are not careful we could stand the risk of being totally disintermediated.”
Optus recently reported a 5% fall in quarterly revenue blamed on increased service credits on mobile plans and reduction in mobile termination fees although profits rose 41%.
An Optus spokesperson told CN that while calls, SMS volumes have fallen, customers are using more data and demand (for mobile internet) has grown exponentially, driven by services like WhatsApp and Viber.
The telco, along with other local carriers, has sought to monetise this massive surge with flexible offers allowing users to add-on more data to their plan, as required.
On the launch of WhatsApp calling service due mid-year, the spokesperson said “it will be interesting to see how the launch will contribute to customers using more data,” but added, the “traditional mobile business is still our core.”
With more wearable technologies like Samsung Gear 2 and Gear Fit this, too, will drive data demand.
A Vodafone spokesperson noted its Red Plans are “unrestricted and allows customers to use all services, including VoIP and other OTT services. We want to give our customers the freedom to use whichever message service they want.”
Vodafone Red Plans launched last July offers unlimited voice and SMS service.
“With a rise in the number of people using apps like What’sApp, Viber, iMessage, and kik to send messages, we’re bumping up larger data allowances e.g 1.5GB, 2.5GB and 5GB to our Vodafone Red customers.”