As telcos wake up to the threat from OTT players, more of them are breaking away from their traditional services with OTT offerings of their own. Guy Daniels reports.
If you can’t join them, beat them. That appears to be the latest strategic thinking of telcos, who are growing increasingly concerned about losing customer revenue to the so-called over-the-top players. Yes, they’ll always say there are areas in which they can cooperate and work together, but the reality is that they want this business for themselves.
Canadian telco Rogers Communications is as traditional as they come (it has a wireless network and some regional cable operations), but even they have woken up to the OTT threat and are exploring ways to fight back. The Stop the Cap website picked up on a story that ran last weekend in the Montreal Gazette, which featured comments from Rogers CEO Nadir Mohamed.
Faced with the growing opportunities offered by TV services and video content, and anxious to put its new LTE wireless network through its paces, Mohamed announced a trial video OTT service in Quebec. Although Rogers has some cable TV franchises in Canada (in Ontario, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland), it doesn’t have video interests in Quebec.
From early 2012, residents here will be able to sign up for the new wireless video-on-demand service.
Speaking during a press event in Montreal, Nadir Mohamed said:
“Video for wireless has huge potential for growth. It’s a sort of the mirror image of how cable evolved, which went from video, to data to voice. Will we replicate our cable platform outside the areas where we currently have franchises? I don't think of it that way. I think people will be much more selective and it will appear much more like an over the top service provider.”
There you have it – Rogers as an OTT player. It’s not a full-featured cable replacement service though; small steps for the moment… He certainly doesn’t want to upset Quebec's two dominant cable TV providers: Videotron and Bell Canada. Mohamed said the service would be available on phones, tablets and televisions, much like Netflix, although the current capabilities of the wireless network will limit the service:
“I think wireless networks in the foreseeable future will not have the capability to deliver full-motion video to a large number of customers at the same time, even with LTE. So what you will see is an integration of wired and wireless, where the wireless network will off-load the traffic to a wired network.”
All this appears to be at odds with one of its main marketing messages at the moment – which supports the idea of a spectrum crunch and calls for equal treatment in the upcoming national spectrum auctions (it doesn’t want the government to set aside spectrum for new wireless competitors). It has launched a dedicated “I Want My LTE” website as part of its lobbying effort – so why announce a new video service that is designed to eat up as much of this supposedly scarce spectrum as possible?
please sign in to rate this article