The chief executive of SingTel, Chua Sock Koong, said in a speech at Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona that telecoms operators should co-operate with providers of over-the-top services, since, while they are unable to monetise OTT traffic, telcos are likely to face difficulties in raising the infrastructure funding necessary to maintain network quality. At the same time, Koong appealed to Australian regulators to grant telcos like SingTel's subsidiary Optus the right to charge OTT providers for the use of their networks.
According to market analysts, one possible development of the issue is for telcos to start charging OTT providers on a tiered basis, asking higher prices for faster connection speeds and larger data traffic. However, Asia is a price-sensitive region and network operators may find it hard to retain customers if they raise their prices. That is why it's worth approaching OTT providers as network co-investors, offering to invest in the networks they use in order to achieve better customer experience and, consequently, better profitability. A case in point, said Clement Teo from Forrester Research, is the deal between Comcast and Netflix.
Another thing that SingTel and its peers could do is start providing big data services, the Forrester analyst said. Telcos have access to huge amounts of data from mobile devices and other systems which makes them a potential game-changer for the big data sector. Offering big data analytics to businesses would help the latter improve customer experience and would make SingTel an invaluable partner. At the same time, telcos could improve the experience of their own customers with location-based, contextual information, such as maps, and links to products and services that would be relevant for them.