Telecom operators in the Caribbean wants Big Tech to share in operation costs

Caribbean network operators persists that OTTs should ‘fair share’ in infrastructure costs.

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The Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) hosted the second iteration of ongoing discussions between Caribbean Network operators and Over-the-top (OTT) Big Tech Companies in Miami. The meeting agenda advanced progress made on discussions and recommendations put forward at the first meeting held earlier this year on 17 February. During the first meeting, three work streams were established to tackle the issues tabled by regional network operators: the Business/Financial/Commercial Stream to deal with the economics of data delivery in the region, the Technical Stream for content delivery collaborations and the Regulatory Stream for regulatory considerations. 

The ongoing meetings stem from the output of the CTU Technical Conference, ‘Proposals for Regulatory Management of OTTs and Big Tech in the Caribbean’, held in September 2022. According to the meeting report, OTT-driven traffic accounts for between US$232 million and $US332 million of annual costs for regional operators, translating to 45-65% of annual regional investments and 7-10% of their retail revenues. The report signalled that the islands of Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago incur the highest margins annually, with between US$34-73 million and US$16-39 million, respectively. It highlighted that to date OTTs had divested Caribbean network operators of over US$500 million annually in network infrastructure. The region calls for OTTs to stand half this cost to backstop the current market failure and positively impact key socio-economic and environmental indicators.