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The Recent OTT Saga: “Over The Top But Under The Law”

What’s new? The Over the Top (OTT) services such as WhatsApp, have recently came into the
limelight.. again – Only this time, I am not sure if it is for good. 

Reference Article: “Over the Top But Under the Law” 

This is indeed the reality. Not only Indonesia is feeling the heat, even Singapore and other
countries are as well. It’s just a matter of which country is willing to take a strong stand on this
issue – which Indonesia definitely has taken one. 

Just take a look at this statistics: There are about 2 billion OTT applications installed around the
world, and at least 700 million people are active users. According to Analysys Mason, the total
volume of messages sent from mobile devices via OTT services in 2013 was above 10.3 trillion,
exceeding the volume of SMSes.

Let’s make sense of this statistics first. If this 10.3 trillion are SMSes provided by the local Telcos, it
will mean a whooping USD100 BILLION worth of revenue (assuming average cost of sms is about
USD0.01) and this translates to a significant amount of revenue for a country as well.

Now with Indonesia’s 260 million population, it is not hard to imagine why the locals are feeling the
heat. The OTT services are riding on top of the internet connection that ISPs worked hard to
provide and worst still, generating revenue for themselves (while at the same time depleting some
of the local Telco revenues) without paying tax to Indonesia. 

I will not get into the politics of this issue. What is important is basically: 

what does this whole saga have to do with our local companies?

On the one hand, we sense that there is really nothing to worry about, albeit in the near future. And the main reason for this is simple: Whatsapp and its OTT gangs are highly depended on and stopping them may even affect business sustainability.

On the other hand, it has raised much awareness and caused companies to really consider the long-term impact of depending on the OTT providers. It has raised questions about “would it be better for long-term business sustainability if we were to use a local product instead, or better still, own our own communication platforms?”

There is indeed a new option for companies. And we strive to provide that option.


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