Thu | Sep 21, 2017

Digicel wants telecoms to get a share of Internet revenues

Published:Saturday | July 22, 2017 | 7:35 AM

Digicel’s Chairman, Denis O’Brien, wants telecoms operators to be given a share of revenues from advertising and over-the-top (OTT) services so they can fund broadband networks in developing countries.

OTT is a term used to describe audio or video content distributed through the Internet, bypassing cable or satellite operators.

O’Brien notes that unlike some Internet giants, traditional telecoms operators, have to buy telecoms licences, pay for spectrum and pay taxes as a percentage of revenues.

O’Brien also highlights the impact the online advertising funded model of Internet providers is having on traditional media.

He says politicians must realise that if the local media goes out of business, the net result is that democracy becomes seriously fragile.

O’Brien was speaking to an international audience of regulators from over 60 countries at the 17th Global Symposium for Regulators in Nassau, Bahamas, earlier this month.

The UN Broadband Commission has an objective to come up with a strategy and recommendations under a ‘new deal’ where Governments, telecoms operators, regulators and OTTs all come together to bring broadband to four of the seven billion people who do not now have it.

O’Brien notes that a huge amount of capital investment is needed in broadband networks of developing nations and he says revenue share must be considered as an option.