Ealier this week, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and relevant stakeholders met with South African Parliament to discuss the possible regulation of over-the-top (OTT) providers such as Skype, What’s App, Viber, Google Hangouts and the likes.
Some interesting points were raised during this meeting, several of which caught my attention namely; Licensing, Quality of Service (QoS), Interconnection and Investment in Infrastructure Development.
And I agree with some of the arguments. OTTs do not contribute to Infrastructure Development nor do they (have to) adhere to QoS standards as well as Consumer Protection laws.
However, ISPs such as those seeking regulation for OTTs (this includes MTN and Vodacom) benefit from increased Bandwidth and Data Revenue. In fact prepaid recharge vouchers are not taxed in South Africa (speaking under correction here). OTA Data Providers in SA are also not held accountable for the QoS (again, speaking under correction) and the price per megabyte is insane in South Africa let alone anywhere.
This also considering that a large portion of the country cannot afford or even get access to unlimited internet access let alone LTE/4G access.
I think the South African government should look closely into Mobile and Data Providers first, and their quality and delivery of service before addressing the OTTs.
Meanwhile in Namibia; Fiber optic cables are stolen routinely and OTA data coverage, not to mention cellular coverage, is limited. Although I have to applaud the quality and costing of said services where available, Good job TN Mobile and MTC, let’s see if you can share infrastructure now.