Sunday, 17 January 2016
Location: South Pacific 3
As an important measure to protect telecommunications consumers, various different forms of USO have been designed and implemented in the U. S., Europe, and Asia Pacific after the middle of 1980’s when the regulators started to introduce market competition. In the recent years, with the development of new technologies and new services, the USO issue has once more been put under the spotlight by regulators in many countries.
This session aims to create a forum to present the current USO policy debates in the U.S., E.U., Korea and Japan. The FCC in the U.S. has started to discuss new regulatory framework called the Connect America Fund as the alternatives of the current USO. In Australia, with the development of the National Broadband Network, the old USO scheme has been reconsidered in 2012 and again in 2015. In EU and Japan, the USO scheme implemented in 2005 has been revised twice, and the government report addressed the necessity to introduce a new concept of USO, but the study group has yet to be formalized.
It becomes clear that regulators in these countries have expressed concerns on the current USO scheme in the new technological and policy environment, where people have a big variety of service options and high-speed Internet provision in addition to the traditional fixed line telephony service. In this new environment, fundamental USO issues shall be reconsidered, such as the definition of universal service and emerging issues shall be discussed such as the role of mobile carriers and OTT in the USO scheme.
Presentations from the U.S., E.U., Japan and Korea in this session will provide a comparative picture of the current USO debates in these countries.
Associate Director, Telecommunications and Social Informatics Research Program (UH TASI) &, Co-director, Pacific Basin Telehealth Resource Center, Social Science Research Institute (SSRI), University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa
Professor, Department of Technology Management & Economics, Chalmers University of Technology
Associate Professor & Co-director, Institute for Information Policy, Pennsylvania State University
This paper investigates the impact of Over-The-Top (OTT) services on international call volumes originating or terminating in the United States.
Over-the-top (OTT) services such as Skype, WeChat, KakaoTalk and WhatsApp have dramatically proliferated in the past two years, and are increasingly drawing voice and SMS traffic away from mobile operators (OECD, 2013). For example, global SMS revenues have already shown dramatic declines especially in the areas where OTT services have proliferated the most (Hibbert, 2013). The latest estimates show that Skype-to-Skype international traffic has grown 16 percent in in 2013-14, to 248 billion minutes.
Traditional carriers have alleged that the proliferation of OTT services has resulted in loss of business for themselves. However, this claim is complicated by the fact that the usage and revenues of traditional carriers too have continued to increase during the last decade, albeit at a lower rate than the historical norm. For example, Telegeography (2014) estimated that annual growth in international call volumes slowed to 7 percent from 2008 to 2013, well below the historical norm of 13 percent. But OTT providers argue that international traffic growth historically was driven by falling prices, deregulation of interconnection charges, improving technology and the proliferation of mobile services in the developing world. But by 2008, these changes were essentially complete, and were no longer driving international call volumes. Thus, according to the OTT providers, the slowdown in traditional carriers’ international call volumes is not attributable to the proliferation of their services.
In this context, this paper seeks to investigate whether changes in international call volumes is driven by the proliferation of OTT services, and if so, the magnitude of the substitution effect. We focus on international call volumes originating or terminating in the United States, since reliable and disaggregated-by-country data is available from the International Bureau of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), through its annual International Traffic Data Reports. However, reliable statistics on the prevalence of OTT service use in different countries is not available, especially because a number of OTT services including WeChat, KakaoTalk.
Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, Film and Media Studies, University of New Haven
Visiting Professor, Hakuoh University