The vast majority of telcos believe their role in the new data world is to partner with the content players. At the same time, more three-quarters of respondents see the OTT players as a significant or moderate threat to operators, according to a joint Telecom Asia-Ovum survey.
The results of this year's Asia-Pacific mobile broadband survey also found that price continues to be much less off a service differentiator, with just 14% indicating it as the most important factor, compared to 29% just two years ago.
For the first time, respondents this year were asked to rank the threat of over-the-top (OTT) players on operators. Not surprisingly, a quarter of those surveyed believe that OTT players will have a "very significant" impact on mobile operators, with a further 56% warning of a "moderate" threat. But still close to 20% are holding out and don't see them as a threat.Nicole McCormick, a senior analyst with Ovum, said the OTT players are no doubt here to stay and will continue to encroach on mobile operator's traditional turf. "It's time for some operators to revaluate their position, especially in the content space," she said.
An operators' role in this new data world is the industry's 25 million dollar question. Having said that, she noted there is a degree of realism in the industry, with 69% of respondents believing that an operator's best-suited role in this difficult new data world is to partner with content players.
"Ovum urges operators to partner throughout the entire mobile ecosystem if their goal is to avoid becoming just a dumb-pipe provider. Such operators need to concede that they can no longer do everything themselves."
Yet, almost a fifth of respondents continue to see their role in terms of only investing in network infrastructure. Only 4% see investing heavily in content as the way forward while 7.7% want to become an access only provider.