Vodacom and MTN do not want to become “dumb pipes” for WhatsApp

Parliament’s discussions about regulating over-top-services kicked off on Tuesday with an expert saying that networks fear becoming pure infrastructure players.

By - January 26, 2016 Share on LinkedIn
WhatsApp header

Parliament’s discussions about regulating over-top-services (OTTs) kicked off on Tuesday with an expert saying that networks fear becoming pure infrastructure players.

OTT services such as WhatsApp and Skype offer voice and text message offerings over data networks – often at a lower cost than traditional telecom services.

But the growth of these services has caught the attention of mobile networks with the chief executive officers of both Vodacom and MTN last year calling for the regulation of OTTs.

Services such as WhatsApp currently don’t contribute financially to local networks, an issue that has previously been highlighted by Vodacom and MTN.

Subsequently, Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Telecommunications and Postal Services set up a meeting on OTT regulation on Tuesday.

The Chair of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Telecommunications and Postal Services, Mmamoloko Kubayi, has said she initiated the meeting after she realised that OTT is becoming an issue in the industry.

Professor Alison Gillwald – the executive director of Research ICT Africa – was the first to present at the meeting.

She said that cheaper smartphones are “driving data takeup” but that “operators are anxious about becoming dumb pipes”.

“Are mobile operators negatively affected by OTTs? Is anybody about to exit the market?” said Gillwald at the meeting.

She also said at the meeting that South Africa is facing other important telecommunications issues, apart from OTT.

For example, she highlighted that spectrum in the country has become a “regulatory bottleneck”.

“Six years we’ve been meeting on this issue and nothing gets done,” said Gillwald.

Gillwald also said that President Jacob Zuma’s splitting of the Department of Communications in 2014 has “had a devastating effect” on the sector.

Meanwhile, Kubayi said the gathering in Parliament on Tuesday is a meeting and not a hearing into possible OTT regulation in SA.

“Get it clear colleagues, we are not here to stifle competition,” said Kubayi.

But the Democratic Alliance (DA) Shadow Minister for Telecommunications and Postal Services, Marian Shinn, asked why the meeting is taking place in the first place.

“Who raised this topic? It was a complete surprise,” said Shinn.

“Why are we not discussing the issue of the cost of data?” added Shinn.

Other stakeholders speaking at the meeting on Tuesday include the likes of the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services and the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa).

Fin24

More on WhatsApp

WhatsApp and Facebook should not be regulated to death in SA

Cell C launches free WhatsApp calling

Share your thoughts

Join the conversation

Connect with Us

androidappletwitterfacebookgoogleplusfeednewsletter

Poll

Do you think online gambling should be regulated in South Africa?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

More News

Where to watch the 2016 Comrades Marathon online

Comrades

Here is where you can stream this year’s Comrades Marathon.

What the new Top Gear needs to be a smash hit

Top Gear

The much anticipated return of Top Gear to the BBC raises a big broadcasting question: is the post-Jeremy Clarkson version doomed to fail or will it help sustain the brand’s success?

SABC decision is not censorship: ANC

ANC logo on wall

The SABC’s decision not to broadcast footage of people destroying public property during protests should not be seen as censorship, the ANC said on Saturday.

Apple iPhone 6 prices – South Africa vs The World

Apple iPhone 6S

Here’s what the iPhone 6 costs in South Africa compared to 26 other countries.

X

Newsletter Subscription


Name
Email *
Enter the following to confirm your subscription *
Captcha image


Free MyBroadband Newsletter
Subscribe
×