OTT providers fail to win trust of users

Despite over-the-top providers like Skype and Whatsapp getting all the attention, users want their mobile operators to be more involved with these services and provide a solution they can trust, according to a new survey

Mobile operators are more trusted by users than over-the-top (OTT) providers and have an opportunity to win customers back, according to a survey released today.

The mobile industry has long been living in fear of OTT companies such as WhatsApp and Skype, blaming the services for taking revenues away from their traditional networks.

However, research by YouGov – commissioned by OpenCloud – showed 60% of consumers were undecided over who was best to provide these extra mobile offerings.

Mobile operators were clearly more trusted when it came to quality, with 70% believing voice was more reliable trough the traditional network, 65% claiming connections in general were more dependable and 81% trusting their operator more than an OTT service for making calls on the move.

“The general consensus across the industry has been that the increasing popularity of OTT services, such as Skype, has marked the death knell for core voice-communication services provided by mobile operators,” said Jonathan Bell, vice-president of product marketing at OpenCloud.

“While OTT services have definitely won market-share, this survey indicates that they have failed to win consumers’ hearts and minds. That battle is by no means over.”

John Gilbert, consulting director at YouGov for technology and telecoms, added: “The results of the study have demonstrated that we can anticipate OTT-related services to continue to grow but consumers are becoming more selective about the type of services they consume on their devices and that they are, to some extent, undecided about their choice of service provider.”

“An operator-driven proposition may be well-received by this market.”

A few mobile operators have delved into the OTT market, such as Telefónica – the parent company of O2 – and its TU Me app. The free download is available to iOS and Android users on the network and allows them to make voice calls and send text messages using their data allowance.

“We’ve seen the growing popularity of communications apps on smartphones, but we believe we’ve gone one better with TU Me, using our knowledge and insights of how people use their devices,” said Stephen Shurrock, chief commercial officer at Telefónica.

Rob Bamforth, principal analyst at Quocirca, told Computer Weekly the launch showed the “writing is on the wall” for traditional pay-per-minute calling.

“While voice calling and text messaging are still growing, the revenues and margins they bring are in decline. Nothing will stop this, so operators have to change their offer,” he said.

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