OTT/Telco partnerships face cultural and technical challenges

3 Austria has rolled out carrier billing

Although the telecoms industry remains largely enthusiastic about the prospect of operators partnering with Over The Top service providers, several challenges still threaten to derail such partnerships, the Intelligence Industry Survey 2014 has revealed.

A total of 92 per cent of respondents (and 93 per cent of operator respondents) believe there is value for operators partnering with OTTs and others in the digital ecosystem.

But the most serious challenge to the successful execution of an operator/OTT collaboration was felt to be confusion or uncertainty over the benefits available to both parties. This challenge was ranked as six or seven on a 1 – 7 scale of severity by 47 per cent of respondents overall and 48.5 per cent of operator respondents.

While this could be seen as contradictory to the top level findings, it perhaps reflects the level of education, discussion and work that still needs to be done in order to deliver the kind of benefits that the industry thinks may be yielded through such partnerships.

Another significant challenge revealed by the survey is the issue of commitment on both sides. Lack of commitment from OTTs was given a high rating (six or seven) as a challenge by 35.5 per cent of respondents and an almost identical share of operator respondents.

Operators were judged to be slightly more game, perhaps because they have more to gain, with 29.4 per cent of respondents (and 27.4 per cent of operator respondents) identifying a lack of commitment, expertise or resource from operators as serious challenge.

Soft issues aside, operator respondents were  concerned by the complexity of the IT processes required to enable operator value add to OTT offerings. One third of operators gave this challenge a high rating. Andy Tiller, VP for corporate product marketing at BSS solutions provider AsiaInfo-Linkage, suggested scale may be an issue here: “Many operators work with a handful of OTT partners today. But creating an attractive overall package which combines the partner’s service with operator value adds—such as a special tariff, QoS and charge-to-bill—generally involves manual customisation of the BSS systems, which is expensive and not scalable to a large number of partnerships,” he said.

The 2014 Intelligence Global Industry Survey drew responses from more than 2,000 industry professionals, including more than 700 operator representatives. The full report from the survey will be made available in February. You can register to receive the report here.


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