SingTel: No charge for using WhatsApp, Skype

SINGAPORE - SingTel clarified yesterday that it will not charge consumers separately for using services like WhatsApp and Skype.

The statement came on the back of an online furore over remarks made by SingTel chief executive Chua Sock Koong at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this week.

The Sydney Morning Herald had reported that Ms Chua said telcos should be allowed to charge over-the-top (OTT) players for using their networks.

OTT companies provide services like text messaging and video or voice calls as an alternative to services provided by mobile network carriers.

She reportedly said: "The main problem we have as an industry is we have been unable to monetise this increased demand...and (average revenue per user) has fallen over time."

She had added that the solution was not to impose a levy on these companies, but to partner them to "create sustainable revenue models".

The story was picked up by several local websites, causing an online furore as several believed this meant SingTel consumers would be charged for using WhatsApp and Skype.

Yesterday, a SingTel spokesman said the telco "does not plan to charge customers separately for the use of (OTT) services".

"We recognise that OTT services such as WhatsApp are popular communication tools with our customers."

SingTel added that it already has tie-ups with OTT players like WhatsApp and Facebook to offer prepaid customers tailored data plans that allow unlimited usage at a certain price. These services have been "well received", it said.

SingTel's WhatsApp tie-up is called the WhatsApp Pass. For $6.42 a month, subscribers get unlimited local access on the app, with no data charges.

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