New spectrum is cited by 78 percent of executives as the top regulatory issue, a survey of global telecom executives finds.

But competition–especially from over the top providers–are the top two challenges faced by global telecom executives say they face.

Fully 73 percent of service provider executives surveyed by E&Y say disruptive competition is the leading industry challenge.

Some 64 percent say regulatory uncertainty is an issue, as well. No other concerns are cited by more than 45 percent of respondents.

OTTs (app providers) represent the chief competitive challenges–even more than traditional firms within the telecom business–the study finds. The reason is that app providers now set pricing environments, cannibalize legacy revenues and create new consumer expectations.

App providers, such as WhatsApp, are viewed as the top driver of new consumer demands by 61 percent of respondents.

In developing regions, 67 percent of executives say device suppliers are likely to be key shapers of end user demand.