Telecommunications operators and Government regulators are facing crippling losses around termination revenues from OTT players such as WhatsApp and Viber, according to global fraud expert and CEO of Revector, Andy Gent.
Gent outlined the future extent of the revenue loss, which is estimated by the Communications Fraud Control Association to be costing the telecommunications industry globally more than $3 billion a year, as more than $1 million per month per network operator.
OTT bypass takes place when OTT players terminate calls that began life as a standard PSTN call. Callers dial a regular number on their phone but the call arrives within an OTT app on the recipient’s phone. Unlike OTT to OTT calls, which are legitimate competition for service providers, this diversion of the call costs network operators termination revenues and the caller is unaware that the call has been diverted.
Gent revealed the extent of the revenues losses at an OTT Bypass Master Class event at the Marriott Islamabad in Pakistan, attended by the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority, Pakistan’s Long Distance & International operators as well as mobile networks operators in the country.
In tests in Pakistan last week Revector discovered that more than 45% of all calls were being terminated in this way from certain routes, which will significantly reducing operator revenues as this technique is copied by other OTT applications.
Gent comments: “OTT companies are now actively selling termination minutes on the open market. This not only fools the recipient of the call into thinking they have received the call via OTT to OTT but also takes revenue from the service provider and taxes from the government. OTT companies are taking a short term approach to revenue generation – money that is taken from the operators’ budgets will mean less revenue for network maintenance and poorer communications networks.”
“Our testing in Pakistan demonstrates the extent of the issue which we have seen replicated in Asia, Africa and Europe. I commend the regulator and the various network service providers in Pakistan for taking this issue so seriously. This is a global problem for network service providers and unless they and regulators act immediately, they will see termination revenues tumble to virtually nothing as we have seen in other countries already.”
Like all hidden routes this practice also represents and additional threat to National Security. Gent will be hosting future OTT Bypass Masterclass events in Dubai, Dublin, London and Brussels.