It’s no secret that mobile carriers the world over are looking at OTT (over the top) services such as Viber and Rebtel and feel that their deep pockets are being threatened by such services. China Mobile is no exception.
China Mobile’s chairman Xi Guohua acknowledges that the world’s largest carrier is more concerned with services like Skype and WeChat than rival carriers, and told the Southern Metropolis Daily in an interview that all traditional carriers are facing enormous pressure from these services, going so far as to describe competition from WeChat and Skype as “even more frightening” because it has the potential for a “qualitative transformation” that could replace his company’s voice and messaging services.
Skype is the world’s largest mobile VoIP provider with 800 million users worldwide and WeChat is a popular Chinese messaging app that is 300 million users strong. With OTT services like these rapidly gaining in popularity, it’s understandable for traditional carriers to see them as an emerging threat to their bottom lines. In all reality, the impact is, indeed, being felt as can be seen by last year’s growth in SMS volume (2.1 percent) while wireless carrier penetration increased by 9 percent.
This trend is likely to continue as time goes on. Carriers would do well to put deals in place similar to that between Nimbuzz and Singapore-based mobile carriers or Skype and carriers in Russia, Canada, and the U.S. in order to ensure a continued stability for the future.