What is OTT – Over the Top and How OTT Providers Work?
Over the Top is a term used to refer to Content Providers. So, when you hear Over the Top Providers, they are Content Providers. Content can be any application, any service such as Instant messaging services (Skype, WhatsApp), streaming video services (YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime), voice over IP and many other voice or video content type.
This post is shared based on the information from my latest book ‘Service Provider Networks Design and Architecture First Edition‘. If you want to understand telecom (Distance communications) and Service Provider Business, I highly recommend you to purchase this book.
An Over-the-Top (OTT) provider provides a content over the Internet and bypasses traditional private networks. Some OTT Providers distribute their content over their CDN over their private networks though (Google, YouTube, Akamai).
They deliver the content over traditional ISP networks. The creation of OTT applications has created a conflict between companies that offer similar or overlapping services. The traditional ISPs and Telco’s have had to anticipate challenges related to third-party firms that offer OTT applications and the services.
For example, the conflict between a Content Provider company such as Netflix and a Cable Access Provider Company such as Comcast, which consumers still pay the cable company for having access to the Internet, but they might want to get rid of their cable TV service in favor of heaper streaming video over the Internet.
While the cable company wants to offer fast downloads, there is an inherent conflict of interest in not supporting a competitor, such as Netflix, that bypasses cable’s traditional distribution channel.
Conflict between the ISPs and the OTT Providers had lead the Net Neutrality discussion. Net Neutrality is the principle that data should be treated equally by ISPs and without favoring or blocking particular content or websites.Those who are in favor of Net Neutrality argue that ISPs should not be able to block access to a website own by their competitor or offer “fast lanes” to deliver data more efficiently for additional cost.
OTT services such as Skype and WhatsApp are banned in some Middle East countries by some Operators, as OTT applications taking some part of their revenue. For example, in 2016, social media applications such as Snapchat, WhatsApp and Viber were blocked by the two UAE telecoms companies, Du and Etisalat. They claimed that these services are against the country VOIP regulations.
In fact, UAE is not the only country for blocking access to some OTT applications and the services. Many countries in Middle East have followed the same model. They either completely blocked access to some OTT applications or throttled them, so the voice conversation over these services became near to impossible.
If you liked this post and would like to see more, please let me know in the comment section below. Share your thoughts so I can continue to write similar ones.