Middle Eastern operators allying against OTT?

A number of operators in the Middle East may form a consortium to combat potential revenue losses caused by an influx of over-the-top (OTT) players. The group, which could include major UAE player du, would come together to create a global Arabic social networking platform.

While the concept would likely prove popular – there are over 350 million Arabic speakers worldwide, and many international operators have ties to Middle Eastern groups – it would be ineffective as a project spearheaded by just one operator. This is the belief of du’s chief executive Osman Sultan, who has raised the proposition of an operator alliance.

The proposed consortium would allow the platform to reach far more users, providing the scale that would allow it to compete. The majority of OTT services and social networks do not generate network traffic but not operator revenue, with Sultan noting: "Network traffic doubles every eight to nine months, but revenue is heading to a plateau, so we need to claim part of the new revenues alongside OTT players."

The idea of an alliance has also been advocated by the chief executive of Bahraini operator Batelco, Sheikh Mohamed Al Khalifa, who said: “There are gains to be made by collaborating within our industry in the Middle East.”

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