Channel NewsAsia

SingTel says no plans to charge customers separately for OTT services

SingTel said it does not plan to charge customers separately for the use of over-the-top (OTT) services such as WhatsApp. This was in response to a query from Channel NewsAsia.

SINGAPORE: SingTel said it does not plan to charge customers separately for the use of over-the-top (OTT) services such as WhatsApp.

This was in response to a query from Channel NewsAsia.

A SingTel spokesperson clarified that its group CEO Chua Sock Koong had called on regulators to allow telcos to charge OTT players for using its networks, and not consumers.

Ms Chua was speaking at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this week and she referred to SingTel's subsidiary Optus.

SingTel invested almost S$1 billion in Australia's second largest provider of telco services last year.

Ms Chua warned that these investments would be reduced unless regulators allowed telco operators to charge OTT rivals like WhatsApp for using their network.

WhatsApp provides free messaging service to its 450 million users worldwide.

The growing popularity of such apps has cut revenues from SMS services and phone calls.

In its statement on Thursday, SingTel said it recognises that OTT services such as WhatsApp are popular communication tools with subscribers and it aims to be the preferred network partner of OTT service providers. 

In response to Channel NewsAsia’s queries, the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) said in a statement that it is closely monitoring market developments and international discussions on the interactions between telecom operators and OTT content or app players.

It said these discussions are complex as they require policies and regulatory measures that balance the need to promote innovation and competition in the Internet space, ensure non-discriminatory access to the Internet, and ensure protection of consumer interest. 

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