Croatia's Vipnet telecom and one of the stronger global Internet providers of over-the-top content (OTT) services, Viber, have agreed on cooperation which is expected to increase the use of data services and their revenues, the two companies said at a joint news conference last Thursday.

OTT refers to delivery of audio, video, and other media over the Internet. The provider uses the existing Internet access to deliver content to its users such as Netflix, Amazon and YouTube, or to enable communication, including Viber and WhatsApp. The use of smartphones and mobile Internet through stronger and faster networks in which telecoms are increasingly investing has increased the use of such services and the increasing data traffic.

Vipnet's marketing director Lordan Kondic said voice communication accounted for less than five percent of the company's network capacities, whereas data traffic was increasing by the year, amounting to 1.6 million GB in 2010 and 13 million GB in 2015, with predictions that it might surge to 55 million GB in 2019.

This data traffic boom in Croatia is in keeping with global trends, resulting in the development of the OTT market and text messaging applications which, according to Vipnet's surveys, were used by 14% of respondents aged 14-70 in 2013 and nearly 50% last year.

Viber cooperates with more than 100 telecoms worldwide and has 665 million users, including 32 million in central and east Europe, its strongest market. There are 2.35 million Viber users in Croatia.

We are very pleased with the Croatian market which, given the 50% rise in the number of users over the past year, represents one of Viber's faster growing markets in this part of Europe, said Viber's director general for central and east Europe, Atanas Raykov. He added that 550 million text messages and 35 million stickers were sent via Viber in Croatia in January.

Interestingly, Croatians prefer to send love stickers, with six love stickers out of ten stickers sent, and we believe use will increase given that, in cooperation with Vipnet, we have created 218 original stickers which will be free for Vipnet users, he said, adding that stickers were one of Viber's more important revenue sources.

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