Read this quarter’s Intermedia here



Share this

By Rene Arnold and Anna Schneider

The new proposal for establishing a European electronic communications code indicates that the European Commission intends to broaden the definition of communications services. This implies treating over the top (OTT) services the same as (legacy) electronic communications services (ECS) under the new regulatory framework. Following the arguments of the level playing field debate, the Commission appears to be saying that WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook Messenger and others have to comply with the same rules as ECS. These include legal intercept, interoperability and similar rules. Interestingly, the fundamental premise on which this decision rests is their similarity in functionality - ie. you can use Skype to make calls, or WhatsApp to text.
Allegedly, the secret behind the success of OTT services is that they offer the same functionality
at no or negligible monetary cost to consumers.
A study that we conducted in Germany based on a representative survey of German consumers and 28 semi-structured interviews disputes this premise. It highlights that consumers opt for OTT services because of the additional functionalities they offer, and not simply because they now can text ‘for free’. Consumers send pictures, videos, voice and video messages, and more. In fact, they craft completely new audiovisual communication experiences – a practice also observed in a study on need fulfillment and experiences on social media.


Rene Arnold and Anna Schneider explore the level playing field debate on OTT services from a consumer perspective.

Intermedia Issue:
Vol 44, Issue 3
Issue Date:
October 2016
Content: innovation, regulation and markets

Vol 44, Issue 3 Features

EDITORIAL 18.10.2016
Q&As with Takamiki Nishikawa, Juan Wilches and Syed Shah 18.10.2016
FREEDOM VS SECURITY 18.10.2016 Monroe E. Price
View All
Back to the top

The IIC is the world's only policy debating platform for the converged communications industry

We give innovators and regulators a forum in which to explore, debate and agree the best policies and regulatory frameworks for widest societal benefit.

Insight: Exchange: Influence

We give members a voice through conferences, symposiums and private meetings, as well as broad exposure of their differing viewpoints through articles, reports and interviews.

The new website will make it easier for you to gather fresh insights, exchange views with others and have a voice in the debate

Take a look Learn more about our updates
Please upgrade your browser

You are seeing this because you are using a browser that is not supported. The International Institute of Communications website is built using modern technology and standards. We recommend upgrading your browser with one of the following to properly view our website:

Windows Mac

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of browsers. We also do not intend to recommend a particular manufacturer's browser over another's; only to suggest upgrading to a browser version that is compliant with current standards to give you the best and most secure browsing experience.