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OTT mobile VoIP apps just got expensive

Innovations Spotlights
Published: 2012-10-09

Telcos are devising new subscription strategies to battle the increasing usage of mobile VoIP applications that has been threatening to take away revenues from main generators - voice and messaging services. Over-the-top (OTT) VoIP applications such as FaceTime, Kakao Talk, Skype, Viber and WhatsApp provide users a relatively cheaper alternative for traditional mobile voice and messaging services.

In South Korea, the Korean Communications Commission allowed KT, LG U+ and SK Telecom to charge for additional fees for access to mobile VoIP applications or entirely block the access of these applications in their networks. These mobile operators have been facing serious competition from OTT players such as Kakao Talk that records more than 30mn users and more than 1bn messages sent every day in South Korea. SK Telecom, for example, limits access of OTT VoIP applications to subscribers of high-tiered plans All-In-One 55 to 95. These plans offer unlimited data to users and cost around EUR 39 to EUR 78; however, access to mobile VoIP applications is capped (e.g. subscribers of All-In-One 55 are allowed 200 MB data access only for mobile VoIP applications). American operators such as AT&T also plan to implement the same strategy with the incoming update of FaceTime, which will make the mobile application available for access through mobile networks. AT&T announced last August that it will limit the access to FaceTime over its mobile network to specific Mobile Share data plan subscribers only.

Both operators have implemented these subscription restrictions for mobile VoIP applications to control the cannibalisation of their voice and messaging revenues by OTT players. In addition, these measures are also expected to mitigate the data traffic congestion brought about by these applications.

Published: 2012-10-09

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