'Networks protecting their monopolies by wanting to regulate OTTs'
Major networks lodged complaints asking govt to regulate messaging services like WhatsApp & Skype.
CAPE TOWN/JOHANNESBURG - The Right to Know (R2K) campaign says cellphone networks like MTN and Vodacom are simply trying to protect their monopolies by asking government to regulate messaging services like WhatsApp and Skype.
The possible regulation of over-the-top (OTT) internet services will be discussed in Parliament later this month.
This comes after major networks lodged complaints with Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Telecommunications and Postal Services.
R2K's Micah Reddy says it just about big companies protecting their cash.
"I think it's a pretty cynical thing for Vodacom and MTN and big telecommunications companies to be saying they're very comfortable in their monopoly and obviously this is a revenue issue."
But MTN's Chris Maroleng says they're losing out, despite paying for the infrastructure that these services use.
"The playing field in our industry at this stage is uneven. And it's uneven in the favour of these so-called over-the-top operators."
OTT's are cheaper than traditional phone calls and SMS and have gained popularity among consumers.
According to World Wide Worx, more than 10 million South Africans use the WhatsApp service.
World Wide Worx managing director, Arthur Goldstuck, says networks are worried about their bottom line.
"SMSes have always been expensive. Instant messaging comes along and suddenly offers messaging at a reasonable cost and the revenues that the networks were enjoying over the years, probably unfairly from the consumers, are suddenly vanishing."
It also appears that if government does decide to regulate WhatsApp, it may also have to regulate more secure services, such as Snapchat and Telegram.