Having an OTT service as a carrier… WhatsApp with that?

Let’s talk about WhatsApp. The popular OTT messaging service – acquired by Facebook for $19bn – has officially made good on its plans to launch as a carrier.

Launching in Germany with carrier E-Plus, the formed MVNO is selling a 10 euro prepaid SIM which comes loaded with the same amount of credit alongside unlimited free access to WhatsApp.

WhatsApp’s CEO, Jan Koum, first announced the company’s carrier ambitions back at MWC in February. Less than two months later and it’s become a reality. Whether the deal was accelerated due to Facebook’s involvement – and/or vast amounts of related-cash – is unknown.

Germany is a big market for WhatsApp – with installs on 90% of all smartphones.

The country equates to a user base in the country of more than 30 million people who have access to the new plan. Outside of the free WhatsApp data allowance, the costs incurred are;

  • One minute call = 0.09 Euros
  • One text message = 0.09 Euros
  • One MB of data = 0.24 Euros

An additional option called “WhatsAll” is available for 10 Euros for 30 days. This gives the customer 600 units where one unit equals; one SMS, one minute of calling time, or one MB. In a strange move, but commonplace in Germany, if you run out of data you can continue to use the service but throttled down to 56Kbps.

It’s not clear whether the calling service which WhatsApp is soon to launch will be included within the unlimited messaging service – considering how cannibalising that move could be to E-Plus. The customer would no longer have to pay messaging or call costs to most of their contacts (Reminder: WhatsApp is installed on 90% of smartphones in Germany...)

Roaming options are available for most countries and include 50MB data or 50 calling minutes to be used within 7 days for a one-off fee of 4.99 Euros. To keep track of the various options and charges available on this plan – dedicated apps have launched for iOS and Android.

How should carriers best partner with OTT services? Let us know in the comments.

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