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Riding the fourth wave of technology

Many of us have read, heard or seen countless comments about OTT (Over-The-Top). It is paradoxical that despite this, the vast majority of pay-TV service providers and free-to-air television channels are not prepared to face, what specialists call, "The fourth technological wave". Providing Over-The-Top content and Value Added Services (VAS) are realities that cannot be ignored and that at some point must be faced.

By Luis Pinto*

If we remember, the first technological onslaught (with Apps) that affected the income of telecommunications operators was in voice services, it is said that Skype created in 2003 already has 250 million active users, who speak close to 100 minutes on a monthly average, so they no longer make use of traditional telephone lines and do not mention the use of text messages. Currently we go through data traffic and mobile connections to the Internet, the particular thing between these three services that I mention is that their price has fallen considerably with the emergence of Apps without them representing income for the network provider.

Now the telephone lines are nothing more than a hook to offer other services, how many of us no longer send a text message  since we have WhatsApp on the mobile?, we easily meet by Skype or another means and no longer make use of streaming video conferences because these platforms displace the traditional ones without a doubt.

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OTT content providers already have infrastructure for the transmission of various contents, these providers, for the most part, do not have creation or distribution rights directly, but they are responsible for disseminating these contents through the Internet by different mobile devices  such as tablets, a SmarthTV or smartphones, thus representing a service with added value.

Many already predict the end of traditional TV because it is presented and seen in a linear way, things have changed, the new generations see audiovisual content differently, they do it by different means, platforms and times, when they want, as they want and through new technologies. I invite you to think about new business concepts that involve applications such as Over the Top Streaming, for example, is a way to transmit through various devices content privately, with high levels of quality and with the advantage of doing it in real time. New windows, platforms and business models are also emerging OTT – VOD – TV Everywhere – Catch Up – Web-streaming. This forces us to play by new rules and those who do not do so run the risk of being left out of the AIR.

In a study by BB Business Bureau that presented within the edition of the BB-NEW MEDIA BOOK in January of this year, shows that the trends surprise and show indicators of more than 84% of OTT consumption penetration at the regional level. The second screens gain space as they give rise. The report consisted of analyzing online consumption habits in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. In the particular case of Colombia  , 85% of respondents said they have seen online content in the last three months and most are under 30 years old. I refer to these studies because they are the generation of tomorrow, they will be the protagonists of a future, there is still a market, but we must be part of the change.

Global Net Colombia is one of the first companies to adapt this service model and offers its subscribers television by OTT, we spoke with its Manager Mr. Luis Onofre Redondo Niño and this was what he told us:

Luis Pinto: Why did you decide to offer this OTT television service?
Luis Redondo:
I think that the cable, the time came when it froze, if we go out to the street it is easy to find a pole with 10,-15,-20 or more fibers and coaxial cables attached to it, the city is filling with visual pollution, we are reaching a hyper-connected world  , if the fibers were used and the cables that are currently installed would be enough, what is missing is to make them efficient in electronics. Basically the OTT is to be able to make efficient the transport of content through an open Internet network.

Today television is not what we saw a few years ago, it becomes another content and is an added value; many are annoyed that it looks like this, but that's how today's market is. Television is an added value and one more content that flows through data networks, through the Internet.

Luis Pinto: What future awaits, according to your opinion, the companies that provide television service through traditional cable?
Luis Redondo:
The cable operator has to adapt and become a provider of content and entertainment, from that point of view its networks have to become completely digital networks that allow to carry their own and third-party content.

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Luis Pinto: How do you handle the issue of copyright on the content you send to your users over the network?
Luis Redondo:
The contents are delimited by a coverage area, I can buy from my programmer, from my content provider a material that I am going to exhibit in a certain area of the world, in a certain region. Today the contents already through the encryption, CAS and routing systems can be delimited, so a specific content can be determined in which place it is allowed to be seen, when leaving that coverage territory, the user will not be able  to access the service; it is the way to protect precisely the contents, basically in this new scenario of mobile screens, it has to be tied and limited to  guarantee the payment of their rights to a geographical area.

Luis Pinto: What other type of service can you offer about your networks?
Luis Redondo:
We project ourselves to be the first CDN in Colombia, this has a very important relevance, on the Internet the content to be efficient, so that it can be downloaded in a timely manner when there is a very important concurrent number of users simultaneously, it has to be close to the consumer, there must be servers in different parts of the country that allow to simultaneously provide one million users with a football match, a movie, an event because otherwise the system would be congested and collapsed. So what we want is to have servers that provide that content to the different cities of the country in the different areas of operation, which allow those local users to first have efficiency when downloading the content, that is, the latency times have to tend to zero and on the other hand we will avoid congestion in a unified network. Those streaming systems, for example, that use servers in the United States allow them to download few users, but when there is a significant number of concurrent users they will necessarily collapse.

Luis Pinto: What kind of architecture do you have in place to provide this service?
Luis Redondo:
The CDN is a package of servers with which streaming content is broadcast in unicast or multicast, depending on what is required; these contents are delivered to the network through an Internet provider, or ourselves as Internet providers, in our case we have agreements with other internet providers, particularly with LEVEL3, which is a provider of providers worldwide, who makes us forward the packages to the end users. In this way if any of our subscribers want to watch a movie that  we have in our system and is within the coverage territory, through their mobile device (cell phone, laptop table, etc.) he will connect with his Internet provider, log in to our system and can access the content he wants to see.

We cannot ignore the position that the State may have on this issue, that is why we interviewed the newly appointed member of the National Television Board in the ANTV, Eng. Ernesto Paul Orozco Orozco representative of the governorates, who very kindly answered the following questions:

Luis Pinto: How advanced or not is the Colombian television legislation with respect to new technologies and what plan does the ANTV have in this regard?
Ernesto Orozco:
Before addressing the answer to this question, it is necessary to make some clarifications to determine in what framework the ANTV (National Television Authority) and  the operators of the public television service operate; by Law, Colombia adopted the agreement with the (ITU) International Telecommunication Union, this organization has a definition of television that is fully in accordance with the definition introduced in Law 182, which regulates the television service in Colombia, basically defines it as a broadcasting service of audiovisual works or content, this defines it as a technique and speaks of the main application of this technique is the broadcasting of these contents, from the making available to the public of these contents, acts of public communication are carried out and it is there where these are considered as public television services, since they are aimed at the general public or a specific public.

Law 182 considers it so, adopts this definition with some slightly different meanings but at the macro level it is consistent with  everything provided by the ITU (International Telecommunication Union)

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Subsequently, Law 1507, which is the Law in force until now on the distribution of functions, also assumes television as a public service and brings up the same definition of Law 182.

Traditionally, public television service has been provided through broadcasting or broadcasting platforms, known as free-to-air television or terrestrial broadcasting television, cable distribution, satellite broadcasting. Lately thanks to the development of IP protocol, we have managed broadband networks, through  which television services are provided, with IP protocol, call it IPTV in terms defined by itU.

The State,  considering that telecommunications services are owned by it and can be provided by individuals under concession, intervenes in telecommunications services and intervenes in the public television service, regulates and controls it, however, if one reviews the known theories about the layers of telecommunications systems, of communications systems, we find that applications and everything that is being presented on the Internet, is in the application layer, they are not in the layers that correspond to telecommunications services, in that sense the provision of internet applications and services, whether  voice communications services, data, messaging and video would not be within the concept of telecommunications service and therefore within the concept of public television service, for this reason not being within the concept of telecommunications service is not regulatable in the same way as telecommunication services are regulated.

I consider it advisable to evaluate the formulation of a new Law, as ordered by the legislative act that eliminated the National Television Commission (CNTV), a Law on television policy, that Law as far as possible, should aim to eliminate barriers to entry to the sector,  to establish a regime of compensation appropriate to the service and that recognizes all market manifestations, that defines the scope of the size of public television and its financing, in this way we can have a modern Law that does not introduce rigidities to the sector and that allows service operators to compete on equal terms with disruptive business models, such as the provision of content over the Internet.

Luis Pinto: How fast do you think the penetration of OTT platforms in the Colombian market is?
Ernesto Orozco:
The behavior of the Colombian consumer is quite favorable to disruptive models in telecommunications, the provision of audiovisual content over the Internet is not alien to all this phenomenon or profile of the Colombian consumer. The growth of these platforms in the market can occur as long as, or goes hand in hand with the growth in broadband penetration, coupled with the efforts of the government particularly the Ministry of Information Technology in promoting broadband, in its  coverage, penetration and growth; In this way also through the sale of Equidae Smart TV and smartphones, people will increasingly have more possibility to access platforms and applications that meet certain needs to enjoy these contents, to that extent, penetration will grow to the rhythm of broadband and availability of equipment in the market.

Luis Pinto: Do you think that the cord-cutting phenomenon will affect the Colombian market due to access to new technologies to watch audiovisual content?
Ernesto Orozco:
The phenomenon of cable cutting is being analyzed from several perspectives, many of them with sociological analyses about consumer behavior, in the United States they are classified into those who cut the cable to go to another cheaper platform and who have never been subscribed to a pay-TV service.

Unfortunately there is a bias in this analysis, I think because it coincides with some crises that have arisen and some limitations of consumers to be able to cover  the costs  of subscription TV, I have reviewed some reports of the united states market that is where cable cutting has been most documented and actually the arpo of pay TV service providers has been increased, this may be one of the reasons why this corete and not necessarily the imminent desire to move to an OTT platform, however in Colombia there is an increase in users of this platform, especially  in the  new buyers of smart TVs with connectivity and in the owners of Smart phone in the market,  who are in both cases the minority, many times these OTT platforms are used for a second  screen, you have a first screen in a room of the house as a subscription TV service, either cable or DTH and when you acquire a second screen with a more modern TV, with connectivity and with Digital Terrestrial Television standard (DTT2), they are limited to subscribing to an OTT service, which gives you the possibility to enjoy the services whenever and wherever and at the same time connects to the Digital Terrestrial Television service available in the area of the house.

This paradoxically has represented a golden opportunity for the open television or terrestrial television platform, by migrating from the analog form to digital technology, because it is able to offer more content, that is known by the consumer and realizes that he can have a second screen  with OTT service and at the same time be nourished by local content through the digital DTT platform available in the market.

In that sense, we must recognize that Colombia has a very good DTT coverage, we are on public  television above 70% of the population  and on private television above 60%; that is an opportunity, a window of opportunity as I preferred to call it for free-to-air television, where this is the preferred platform for access to local content in conjunction with a connection or a subscription to an OTT platform.

Luis Pinto: Are OTT services substitutes or complements to pay TV?
Ernesto Orozco:
To determine whether an OTT service can become a substitute or complement to a product such as  pay TV services, whether cable, DTH (Direct Television Home) or IPTV (Internet Protocol Television), it is necessary to make a judicious examination of the market and determine how the market behaves with and without these products, this is the competence of other regulatory entities that carry out this type of analysis, so I do not dare to say exactly if they can become substitutes or complements of other offers that are on the market, what if I know, is that the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) of the United States in its industry reports includes multiplatform video providers and classifies them in the DTH, it classifies them into cable operators including IPTV and has another classification for what they call On Line video distributors which is what we know as OTT, they give it the importance they have in the market, they do the market analysis that corresponds, but they do not put them at the same regulatory level, it establishes a clear difference between telecommunications service providers such as cable, those of DTH, those of IPTV and online suppliers or distributors of audiovisual content.

Luis Pinto: What role should pay-TV service providers assume in the face of this new technological wave?
Ernesto Orozco:
As a suggestion because it does not correspond to me more as a member of the National  Television Board, we are attentive to the entire behavior of the market itself with the support and collaboration of CRC (Communications Regulation Commission) which is competent  to analyze this type of behavior, in order to evaluate the regulatory framework of the public television sector  , of television as a public service: for operators I suggest in a very respectful way, to have all the openness and willingness to assume the new challenges represented by disruptive models based on technological developments; openness, adaptation, assuming that the business model has changed, expecting lower revenues, as has occurred in almost all industries that have suffered the onslaught of technology through the provision of internet service, taking advantage of that  same technology and producing by innovating services so that they are competitive in the face of this new market reality; digitize all its services, make its commercial offer more flexible  and as I said before innovate and address all new markets, whether niche or broader markets in a competitive way with competitive products as I said.

On the other hand, during the opening ceremony of Colombia 3.0 that took place in Bogotá on September 7, the ICT Minister Dr. David Luna indicated that in Colombia there is a digital revolution since it has 50% of households connected through 10.1 million Internet connections and that 8 out of 10 Colombians are connected to the Internet in large cities. In this way Colombia is the first country in open data in Latin America, which reflects a new reality, in 2014 67% of the traffic on the network corresponded to video playback, it is projected that by 2019 this percentage will be 89%. The minister says: "If this doesn't make us think, what makes us think?" he adds; "This digital revolution is clearly the revolution of which the industrial one was many years ago and we have to be able to understand and understand that we face it" and to close the presentation he makes us this remark "television advertising was already surpassed by Advertising on the Internet and that has to make us understand that there are changes and that we can not resist those changes and next year advertising the web is going to be clearly overtaken by mobile advertising." 

Colombia is considered by experts a highly digitized country, the figures indicate it, we get one technological wave after another, an example of this is  the traffic on desktop that in 2014 was 80% with a significant drop in 2015 to 55%, contrary to mobile traffic went from 20% in 2014 to 45% in 2015. Clearly advertising must be associated with these new ways of seeing audiovisual content, so I ask, where in the business do you see yourself?, which side of the screens do you want to be?

*Engineer Luis Hernando Pinto is a Technical Commercial Advisor for TVyVideo+Radio magazine and Tecnotelevisión&Radio. You can contact him through

Richard Santa, RAVT
Author: Richard Santa, RAVT
Periodista de la Universidad de Antioquia (2010), con experiencia en temas sobre tecnología y economía. Editor de las revistas TVyVideo+Radio y AVI Latinoamérica. Coordinador académico de TecnoTelevisión&Radio.

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