For the past couple of years over-the-top (OTT) communications and messaging providers have been considered a threat to mobile operators' revenues, but at a conference session at Mobile World Congress on Monday one of the big names on that side of the industry called for carriers to work with it and take their share of the revenues.
30% of our future revenues are up for grabs by carriers, said Talmon Marco, CEO of OTT messaging specialist Viber. ″Come and take it,″ he urged the operators in the room and alongside him on the stage. However, there is a caveat: ″We're not making any money today,″ Marco said.
The 30% of future revenues Marco referred to will come if and when Viber gets to a point at which it is able to charge users for certain services and requires a billing partner.
″We're definitely prepared to share revenues when we charge users because we need someone to process the billing,″ Marco said. It could do that through a partner like Google or Mastercard, but it ″had might as well be″ the companies whose networks it is using, he pointed out.
Viber now has more than 175 million users for its services that run over telecoms operators' networks and threaten their own revenues. But is it willing to pay for using those networks? ″No!″ said Marco.
But it is keen to work with the telcos in other ways.
″I would love to offer our users Viber calls at a high quality,″ Marco said. ″Some of our users may be willing to pay for it.″ He confirmed that Viber is in talks with a number of telcos and aims to announce ″some pretty cool things″ later this year.
In the meantime, it has announced a partnership with Indonesian mobile operator Axis that will let its customers buy a Viber service rather than a full data plan. ″We're helping Axis get its users into the IP world,″ Marco said.
Telecoms operators need to work with the likes of Viber and other OTT players in order to be able to provide the innovative services consumers want, Marco insisted.
″If you're working for a carrier