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MTN calls for regulation of messaging services

The network says it has lost revenue because people use the likes of WhatsApp instead of SMSes.

Picture: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - MTN says it wants messaging services like WhatsApp, Snap Chat and Telegram to be regulated by government, because while networks have to comply with licence conditions, these services get off scot-free.

It's emerged that phone networks want these services regulated as they've lost millions revenue because people use them instead of SMSes.

Cellular phone networks have been asking government to examine whether it can regulate these services.

MTN's Chris Maroleng says the current situation is unfair.

"We have to adhere to very stringent license conditions and other legislative instruments that regulate our industry and these are done in the interest of both the consumer and to ensure that the industry remains sustainable and viable."

Maroleng says they're being forced to compete with these services, with one hand tied behind their back.

"Competitors who do not create jobs in this country, who do not pay taxes in South Africa [and] do not invest in the infrastructure for these services to be provided must be held accountable."

Fin24 has reported that over-the-top (OTT) services have rocketed in usage in South Africa with over 10 million users in the country, according to a recent report by World Wide Worx and Fuseware.

Parliament is now starting a process to examine whether regulation is necessary.

The Portfolio Committee on Telecommunications and Postal Services confirmed to Fin24 that it has scheduled hearings into the possible regulation of OTT services in South Africa on 26 January.

According to the publication, the notice of the planned hearings, which was sent to relevant stakeholders, says the hearings are set to discuss "necessary policy interventions on how to govern OTTs, regulatory interventions on the guidelines to regulate OTTs" and the "impact of OTTs on competition".

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