The risk of higher WhatsApp data prices

Some mobile operators would like to charge a higher price for data used on voice over IP calls, but consumers are not happy with this plan.

By - January 29, 2016 Share on LinkedIn
Whatsapp on phone

The possible regulation of over-the-top (OTT) services like WhatsApp, Skype, and Facebook are making headlines following a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee hearing on the issue.

While regulation is one option on the table, there is also talk that some mobile operators want to charge higher prices for data used on voice services.

Nadim Mohamed, an investment analyst at First Avenue Investment Management, said on Business Day TV that operators in the United States have asked for the freedom to bill higher rates for data when used for voice services.

This is nothing new. In South Africa, Vodacom and MTN have already filed higher data prices for VoIP with South Africa’s telecommunications regulator Icasa.

Vodacom lodged a tariff of R10 per MB for VoIP traffic, while MTN lodged a tariff of R25 per MB.

MTN warns users in its terms and conditions that: “You will also be charged retrospectively at R21.93 per Megabyte (VAT excluded) [R25 per MB VAT included] for any VoIP traffic.”

Vodacom told MyBroadband it does not intend to charge higher rates for “unmanaged OTT voice services” provided through the open Internet.

Consumer backlash concern

While some operators may consider charging higher rates for VoIP traffic, the consumer backlash which will follow could be devastating.

Telecommunications regulation lawyer Dominic Cull said that the real issue regarding OTT services is net neutrality.

“Once I pay for the data, a service provider cannot dictate to me how I use it or what services I access,” said Cull.

Mohamed shared this view, saying that “a Meg is a Meg”. “I do not want to be treated differently when I want to use my Meg on voice instead of visiting a website,” he said.

He said there is a lot of discussion regarding the issue, and that many countries are leaning towards net neutrality – where all data is treated equally.

The battle in favour of OTT services has not been won yet, however. In Morocco, VoIP and OTT services were recently blocked.

On 5 January, Skype, Viber, WhatsApp, and FaceTime were blocked by Morocco’s three operators – Maroc Telecom, Meditel, and Inwi.

While this is unlikely to happen in South Africa, the debate over OTT services is set to continue for some time to come.

WhatsApp does not pay tax in South Africa: MTN

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

WhatsApp and Facebook should not be regulated to death in SA

Share your thoughts

Join the conversation

Connect with Us

androidappletwitterfacebookgoogleplusfeednewsletter

Poll

Do you watch movies at a cinema at least once a month?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

More News

Watch South Africa’s richest CEOs sleep on the streets of Johannesburg in cardboard boxes

CEO Sleepout

The 2016 Sun International CEO SleepOut took place on 28 July, with many high-profile CEOs braving the cold to sleep on the streets of Johannesburg.

South Africa can’t afford nuclear build on top of Medupi

Eskom logo dark

South Africa should only start the process of building several nuclear stations after it has fully completed its current coal power station project, civil action group Outa said.

Protesters shot with rubber bullets by police at 2016 CEO SleepOut

CEO SleepOut Header

Protesters have tried to disrupt the 2016 Sun International CEO SleepOut, but were repelled by the police.

Get your new Smart ID card – who qualifies and where to get it

Smart ID in hand

This is who can get their new Smart ID card in South Africa.

Free MyBroadband Newsletter
×