Ofcom sets its sights on WhatsApp, Zoom and FaceTime

UK communications regulator Ofcom is examining the impact of chat and video services, such as WhatsApp, Zoom and FaceTime, on traditional calling and messaging. It is also attempting to find out whether their inability to allow cross-platform communication raises concerns.

The process is only just beginning and can take many months, years even, but Ofcom wants to ensure that the emerging technologies do not negatively impact competition among all communications providers in the UK.

In addition, the regulator has started a process to understand the “nature and intensity of competition” among digital personal assistants, smart TVs and smart speakers. It wants to analyse consumer behaviour, “future developments”, and the role of the major players in the market, not least their bargaining power with content providers. Essentially, it wants to make sure that the likes of Amazon, Google, Samsung and LG aren’t able to squeeze out smaller competition through any deals they make.

“The way we live, work, play and do business has been transformed by digital services. But, as the number of platforms, devices and networks that serve up content continues to grow, so do the technological and economic issues confronting regulators,” said Ofcom’s director of connectivity, Selina Chadha.

“That’s why we’re kick-starting a programme of work to scrutinise these digital markets, identify any competition concerns and make sure they’re working well for people and businesses who rely on them.”

The regulator has also revealed that it will be looking at cloud services from Microsoft, Amazon and Google.

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