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ITU issues Recommendation on a collaborative framework with OTTs

The Recommendation recognises the complementary contribution of OTT and telecoms to innovation and investment.

Background: The relationship between telcos and OTTs has evolved over time. In the second half of the previous decade, telcos generally saw OTTs as a threat to their business model and to their revenue streams. This also affected the debate around net neutrality, with telcos keen to preserve their ability to prioritise their own services over competing OTT applications. In recent years, the relationship has evolved and improved, with both sides mutually recognising one another’s importance in the ecosystem.  

The Recommendation: Today, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) approved a Recommendation recognising the interdependence of OTT and telecoms; it highlights that investment in network infrastructure has provided the foundations for the rise of OTTs and, conversely, that demand for OTT services has stimulated demand for connectivity. The Recommendation encourages member states to foster fair competition, and to consider a reduction of the regulatory burden on telcos; and to foster mutual cooperation between OTTs and telcos.

What it will mean in practice: The Recommendation is not binding, but it will inform how ITU member states take OTTs into account when they update their regulatory frameworks, particularly when defining relevant markets. It is also likely to encourage collaboration across member states and stakeholders due to the global nature of most OTT players.