Car­ri­ers have lit­tle to like about Face­book and What­sApp’s voice and mes­sag­ing apps

Face­book says its ser­vice and phone com­pa­nies are al­lies. Some tel­cos dis­agree “The premise should be, same ser­vices, same rules”

Bloomberg Businessweek (Europe) - - CONTENTS -

Two years ago, Mark Zucker­berg took the stage at the Mo­bile World Congress, an an­nual in­dus­try gath­er­ing held in Barcelona, to re­as­sure phone com­pa­nies that Face­book is their nat­u­ral ally. He’d just an­nounced the $22 bil­lion pur­chase of the What­sApp mes­sag­ing ser­vice and was tout­ing an ini­tia­tive called In­ter­net.org, a low-band­width suite of ba­sic ser­vices car­ri­ers would of­fer in con­junc­tion with Face­book to get hun­dreds of mil­lions of peo­ple on­line for the first time. He pledged to “build what is go­ing to be a more prof­itable model with more sub­scribers for car­ri­ers.” By stick­ing to­gether, the Face­book founder said, both sides could ben­e­fit hand­somely.

As Zucker­berg pre­pares to re­turn to Barcelona for this year’s MWC on Feb. 22, phone ex­ec­u­tives say his com­pany looks more like a com­peti­tor than a part­ner. Last year, What­sApp in­tro­duced free voice calls—some­thing Face­book al­ready of­fered—and both brands have mes­sag­ing apps. Th­ese so-called over-the-top ser­vices cut into mo­bile car­ri­ers’ voice and tex­ting rev­enue be­cause they’re of­fered over the In­ter­net. Some phone com­pa­nies say Face­book and its ilk are free­loaders that rely on car­ri­ers’ net­work in­fra­struc­ture with­out spend­ing any money to sup­port it. “What­sApp is com­pet­ing with us, not only with mes­sag­ing but with voice, too,” Tele­fónica Chief Op­er­at­ing Of­fi­cer José María Ál­varez-Pal­lete said in Au­gust at a telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions in­dus­try event in the

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