This report addresses the emerging debates regarding regulation for OTT services. Indeed, as seen with Google Shopping or Apple taxes and sharing economy specific rules in many countries, the initiatives from public stakeholders are becoming more and more important.

Hot topics are so far around taxation, privacy and more recently competition rules. In the context of level playing field, often promoted by telecom operators, the regulations around Net Neutrality and OTT communications are also under the spotlight.

This report provides an overall analysis of the key topics mentioned above and a benchmark of developments at the European level, on 6 European countries (France, UK ,Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Spain) 3 American countries (USA, Canada, Brazil) and 3 Asian countries (Japan, India, Hong Kong)

Table of contents

1. Executive Summary

2. Introduction on OTT concepts and markets
2.1. Definitions of OTT
2.1.1. Scope issues
2.1.2. European framework not directly addressing OTT 12
2.1.3. The BEREC approach
2.2. Level Playing Field
2.2.1. Traffic impacts
2.2.2. Traditional telecom market impacts
2.2.3. Other elements for the level playing field; Europe vs International
2.2.4. Relationships between telcos and OTT
2.3. OTT dynamics and key characteristics
2.3.1. OTT revenue models
2.3.2. OTT value chains
2.3.3. OTT markets
2.4. Identification of major topics for potential OTT regulation

3. Privacy
3.1. Synthesis
3.2. Key stakes: personal data now available at unprecedented levels, but with it come various privacy risks
3.2.1. A contrasting approach to privacy between EU and US
3.2.2. Trans-Atlantic data transfer evolves from Safe harbour to Privacy Shield
3.3. Initiatives and reactions in Europe
3.3.1. At the EU level: Reform of EU data protection rules
3.3.2. France
3.3.3. UK
3.3.4. Germany
3.3.5. Netherlands
3.3.6. Italy
3.3.7. Spain
3.4. Initiatives and reactions in the Americas
3.4.1. The US approach to data protection
3.4.2. Canada
3.4.3. Brazil
3.5. APAC
3.5.1. Japan
3.5.2. Hong Kong
3.5.3. India

4. Platform and competition
4.1. Synthesis
4.2. Focus on Uber’s embattled expansion
4.2.1. Europe
4.2.2. Americas
4.2.3. Asia-Pacific
4.3. Key stakes
4.4. European Union
4.5. UK
4.5.1. Independent review of the collaborative economy
4.5.2. NRA and NCA opinions
4.6. France
4.7. Germany
4.7.1. White book Digital regulatory policy for growth, innovation, competition and participation
4.7.2. Bundeskartellamt
4.7.3. Other initiatives
4.8. Italy
4.8.1. Sharing Economy Act
4.8.2. AGCM
4.9. Spain
4.9.1. Transportation and ride sharing
4.9.2. CNMC investigation
4.10. Netherlands
4.10.1. Ministry of Economic Affairs
4.10.2. ACM platform investigation
4.11. Canada
4.11.1. Policy and regulation
4.11.2. Canadian Competition Bureau
4.12. Hong Kong
4.12.1. A difficult regulatory environment
4.12.2. Recommendations by the Hong Kong Consumer Council
4.13. USA
4.14. Brazil
4.15. India
4.15.1. TRAI OTT consultation
4.15.2. Supreme Court hearing on privacy
4.15.3. Ministry of Road Transport and Highways on ride-sharing
4.16. Japan

5. Taxation
5.1. Synthesis
5.2. Key stakes: Multinational and major companies “avoiding” full payment of various taxation schemes
5.2.1. “Double Irish and Dutch sandwich” system to shift value overseas
5.2.2. The Luxembourg tax regime, revealed through LuxLeaks
5.2.3. VAT and other discrepancies also cause for concern
5.2.4. Income stashed overseas
5.3. Reactions to tax avoidance schemes
5.3.1. At the European level
5.3.2. Brazil
5.3.3. Canada
5.3.4. France
5.3.5. Germany
5.3.6. Hong Kong
5.3.7. India
5.3.8. Italy
5.3.9. Spain
5.3.10. United States
5.3.11. UK
5.3.12. Japan
5.3.13. Netherlands
5.4. Appendix
5.4.1. The six key measures proposed by the European Commission to fight tax avoidance
5.4.2. Action Plan on VAT– Towards a single EU VAT area

6. Net neutrality
6.1. Synthesis
6.2. Key stakes
6.2.1. Consumer impact
6.2.2. Technical-economic issues
6.3. European Union
6.3.1. Legacy
6.3.2. Net neutrality in the 2009 framework
6.3.3. Net neutrality in the TSM
6.4. France
6.4.1. Regulator (ARCEP)
6.4.2. Legislation
6.5. UK
6.5.1. Regulator (Ofcom)
6.5.2. Legislation
6.6. Germany
6.6.1. Regulator (BNetzA)
6.6.2. Legislation
6.7. Italy
6.8. Spain
6.9. Netherlands
6.10. Canada
6.11. Hong Kong
6.12. USA
6.13. Brazil
6.14. India
6.14.1. Creating a legal framework for net neutrality
6.14.2. Zero rating
6.15. Japan

List of tables and figures

List of tables and figures


Table 1: Level of advancement of regulation and/or debate
Table 2: Common rules vs. ECS-specific regulations
Table 3: Regulatory Imbalances between Network Operators and Application Providers
Table 4: Current view on debates related to OTT communications
Table 5: Comparison of data protection legislation between the countries covered
Table 6: What will change in the European regulations on privacy protection
Table 7: French regulatory principles
Table 8: Major FTC regulations by area
Table 9: FTC’s sector regulation
Table 10: Approaches for competition regulation of OTTs
Table 11: Examples of taxes targeting OTT players specifically
Table 12: Comparison of VAT rates on linear and on-demand audiovisual media services
Table 13: Tax/profit ratio paid by leading US Internet and non-Internet companies
Table 14: Offshore profits and tax haven subsidiaries of a selection of US giants
Table 15: Regulatory approaches for Net Neutrality in the benchmarked countries
Table 16: Allowable use of the word “unlimited” according to Ofcom
Table 17: Excerpt from CRTC’s 2012-15 work plan


Figure 1: A potential classification of services
Figure 2: Tentative definition of OTT services
Figure 3: BEREC’s OTT taxonomy
Figure 4: Comparison of global telco and OTT service market revenues, 2010-2020
Figure 5: IP traffic growth
Figure 6: Comparison of telco and OTT characteristics for communication services
Figure 7: Telefónica’s approach to a level playing field in data and consumer protection
Figure 8: Issues of level playing field going beyond the traditional scope
Figure 9: Usual view of debates between telcos and OTTs
Figure 10: Real view of interactions between telcos and OTTs
Figure 11: The five parts of the Telco vs OTT equation
Figure 12: OTT as intermediate between ‘users’ and ‘others’
Figure 13: Partnerships between OTTs and telcos
Figure 14: Telco OTT initiatives in communications
Figure 15: Telco as intermediary between ‘users’ and large OTTs
Figure 16: Telco as intermediary between ‘users’ and ‘others’
Figure 17: Operating profile of a telco
Figure 18: Current positioning of telcos on digital products
Figure 19: Time spent on the Internet in 2016
Figure 20: Correspondence between offline and online services and applications
Figure 21: Two sided models for OTTs
Figure 22: Platform approaches of OTT
Figure 23: Internet value chain
Figure 24: The evolution to a simpler disintermediated value chain
Figure 25: Breakdown of worldwide OTT markets
Figure 26: Breakdown of worldwide paid OTT markets
Figure 27: Worldwide revenues of digital content in 2013
Figure 28: Worldwide advertising markets breakdown in 2016 and 2020
Figure 29: Player shares of online advertising revenue, 2015
Figure 30: Global OTT competitive landscape
Figure 31: Estimated annual per-user revenue for Internet services worldwide, 2011-2015
Figure 32: Top Internet players all over the board in 2015
Figure 33: Bundling impacts on the map services
Figure 34: World’s biggest security breaches, October 2015 and April 2017
Figure 35: Frequently used online services: comparison of their use and trust levels (2015 survey)
Figure 36: The EU-US Privacy Shield Fact Sheet
Figure 37: Evolution of consent
Figure 38: Examples of platform markets
Figure 39: Multisided vs product platforms vs resellers
Figure 40: Examples of external effects
Figure 41: Single- vs. multi-homing
Figure 42: Gatekeeper problems
Figure 43: EU agreement with Amazon to phase out “most favoured nation” clauses
Figure 44: Different rules for ECS and ISS
Figure 45: Amended definition of ECS as proposed by draft ECC
Figure 46: Number of VTC licences issued in Spain
Figure 47: The “Double Irish” and “Dutch sandwich” scheme
Figure 48: An overview of the Luxembourg tax scandal
Figure 49: Number of VoD providers situated in selected European countries
Figure 50: Comparison of regulatory and tax pressures on VoD businesses in select European countries
Figure 51: The European Commission’s proposal to limit tax avoidance
Figure 52: Key VAT facts: the scale of VAT within the EU
Figure 53: The Action Plan on VAT, presented by the EC
Figure 54: Google News Spain’s homepage
Figure 55: Share of Fortune 500 Companies with subsidiaries in the top tax havens, 2015
Figure 56: The Action Plan on VAT, presented by the EC
Figure 57: How the current EU cross-border VAT system works vs EC’s proposed Single EU VAT area
Figure 58: The current EU VAT rates and EC’s proposed new VAT rates
Figure 59: EC guideline on how VAT applies to EU cross-border online sales
Figure 60: DT Music Free
Figure 61: Key issues around Net Neutrality
Figure 62: Evolution of transit prices
Figure 63: Transit vs peering volume growth by region, 2013-2020
Figure 64: Evolution of traffic, cost and revenues in the telecom industry
Figure 65: Ofcom presentation on Net neutrality (2006)
Figure 66: Restrictions applied within the European Union
Figure 67: Leaked Council ‘non-paper’ (May 2015)
Figure 68: The end of net neutrality? Not quite…
Figure 69: EU net neutrality: no blocking or throttling says EC
Figure 70: Number of contributions to NN guidelines consultation
Figure 71: Degrees of traffic management
Figure 72: StreamOn zero rating
Figure 73: Regulation in the Netherlands
Figure 74: CRTC letter to Rogers
Figure 75: Administrative net neutrality timeline India
Figure 76: TRAI transparency obligation template
Figure 77: LINE Mobile “Communication Free Plan” zero rating LINE, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

Geographic area

  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Japan
  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • Spain
  • United Kingdom
North America
  • Canada
  • United States
Latin America
  • Brazil


  • ACM
  • AGCM
  • Airbnb
  • Akamai
  • Alibaba
  • Amazon Kindle
  • Amobee
  • ANRT
  • AOL
  • Apple
  • AT&T
  • Baidu
  • Bell Mobility
  • BlaBlaCar
  • BNetzA
  • Bobsled
  • Boku
  • Booking
  • BskyB
  • BT
  • Cell C
  • Cisco
  • CNMC
  • CNMT
  • Comcast
  • CRTC
  • DataSparks
  • DBA
  • Dell
  • Deutsche Telekom
  • Didi Chuxing
  • Dropbox
  • Evernote
  • Everything Everywhere
  • Expedia
  • Facebook
  • FreeBeeData
  • GE
  • Google
  • H3G
  • Hulu
  • ITunes
  • J:COM
  • Kayak
  • KDDI
  • Level 3
  • LINE
  • LoveFilm
  • Meetic
  • Microsoft
  • MTN
  • Nest
  • Netflix
  • O2
  • Ofcom
  • Orange
  • PriceMinister
  • Rakuten
  • Rogers
  • Salesforce
  • Samsung
  • SingTel
  • Skype
  • Spotify
  • Sprint
  • Starbucks
  • TalkTalk
  • Tango
  • Telecom Egypt
  • Telecom Italia
  • Telefónica
  • Telkom
  • Telstra
  • Telus
  • Tencent
  • The Priceline Group
  • Three
  • T-Mobile
  • T-Mobile USA
  • TRAI
  • Trivago
  • Twitter
  • Uber
  • Verizon
  • Viber
  • Vimpelcom
  • Virgin Media
  • Vodacom
  • Vodafone
  • Waze
  • WeChat
  • WhatsApp
  • Wikipedia
  • Xfinity
  • Yahoo!
  • YouTube


Introduction on OTT services
Introduction: OTT concepts

Level Playing Field
Telco concerns with OTTs
Introduction: Level Playing Field
Level Playing Field: the case of communication
Level Playing Field: the case of communication

OTT dynamics
OTT markets
OTT concepts and markets
OTT market dynamics and competition: concerns on competition and privacy

OTT regulation hot topics
Where is the debate heating up?
Taxation: Internet giants “avoiding” full payment of corporate tax
Taxation: overall view in selected countries
Privacy: users concerned, but few of them taking action
Privacy: overall view in selected countries
Privacy: GDPR in Europe
Platforms: Internet giants and the unfair use of their dominance
Platforms: overall view in selected countries
Net neutrality: EU vs USA
Net Neutrality: Europe
Net Neutrality: overall view in selected countries

Other details

  • Reference: M17150MRA
  • Delivery: on the DigiWorld Interactive platform
  • Languages available: English
  • Tags: competition, Level Playing Field, Net neutrality, OTT regulation, platform, privacy, taxation, telecom operators

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