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Telcos face off on content

21 September 2010
Telcos face off on content

One of the last conference sessions, The Telecoms in Media session, witnessed one of the biggest disputes – a row over the telecommunication operators’ proper role in content distribution and monetisation.

On one side, operators including Vodafone, KPN and Telstra say that their future includes providing their own branded packages of content.

On the opposing side was Carphone Warehouse’s Talk Talk. “I just don’t see that it is the network’s job to try and put content together,” said Neil McArthur, chairman of Talk Talk technology. “In the broadband world we need to de-couple content from the broadband because the user wants to access everyone’s content.” McArthur said that Apple is a good example of the future: the company has completely de-coupled Apple devices from the telecoms’ networks. “Apple is the brand and they say it will work on anyone’s network.”

“I think that telecoms operators have to know why they are getting into content because telecoms and TV are two very different industries,” said Mark Wilson-Dunn, vice president of global sales and marketing for BT Wholesale.

“There has got to be some mutual respect between the industries and that’s when we can generate value and move forward. You can’t commoditise content, so we need to make friends.”

The head of broadband and media for Telstra, Jean-Baptiste Rousselot said: “We insisted that the telcos must be in the content business.

“We believe it is not just about being the best pipe and doing the job that creates a bridge between the fixed and mobile networks but also for us to be an active player in something more,” he said.

Lee Epting (pictured), director of content services at Vodafone Group said: “Vodafone has been in the content business for a long time and evolved business models over time, first with WAP and the walled garden.

Now innovators and application developers can publish directly to [our] application stores globally with a clear business model.”

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