Will Operators get in on Video Calling Apps?

Mobile VC

A multi-national study reveals that consumers think mobile operator video-calling services could be superior to those provided by OTT players. Despite the growing adoption of OTT apps capable of providing video-calling, it would appear that consumers believe their mobile service provider is capable of delivering a video-calling service that better meets their needs.

A YouGov survey commissioned by OpenCloud, the telecoms software innovator, canvassed network customers across the UK, US, Germany and France. Almost a third (32%) of the adult population covered by the survey use OTT voice or video-calling services on any device with 18% using their mobile for such apps. Of those currently using video-calling apps, 38% expect their use of video-calling to increase over the next year.

All respondents, regardless of whether they use OTT video-calling services currently or not, were asked how interested they would be in video-calling services from their operator. 37% of respondents showed significant interest and, of those, 74% would be interested in an operator provided app while 89% would be interested in a ”native” experience similar to making a regular voice call (65% would be happy either way).

Interestingly, of those already using OTT voice and/or video-calling services, more than half (60%) would be interested in an operator provider service, with marginal preference for a “native” calling experience (62%) rather than an operator provided app (58%).

The survey yielded some surprising results that should give operators further confidence: consumers rate operators as more capable than OTT service providers to provide video-calling services on each of four criteria: Ease of use; Number of contacts reachable; Quality of video; and use of the service on multiple devices. When asked “who is capable of offering better services” for each criterion, consumers picked mobile operators on average 50% more frequently than OTT service providers.

In strongest support of mobile operators, and least surprising, was “number of contacts reachable” where every one vote for OTT was matched by 2.3 for the operator. This reflects the limitations imposed by many OTT providers where contacts are only among closed user groups and subscribers pay more if they wish to expand their contact base.

More surprising was consumers’ faith in operators out-performing OTT apps on “ease of use”. However, this is significant because the survey shows that 63% of consumers rate “ease of use” as a highly important attribute of video-calling services. The same number, 63% also placed “reliability of connection” at the top of the list of important attributes.

Mark Windle, Head of Marketing at OpenCloud says: “The use of video-calling services is set to grow. Following the launch of 4G, the video-calling market is now up for grabs and OTT services and operators’ Video-over-LTE (VoLTE) services will compete for their share. OTT brands have been successful in offering innovative video-calling, but with consumers appearing to believe that the network operators can now do better there is opportunity for them to regain some lost ground. Operators will need to address both perceived and actual levels of service innovation in a cost-competitive way in order to capitalise on this opportunity.”