Planned proceedings for parliament in 2016 could an inquiry into WhatsApp regulation in South Africa, in addition to policing other OTT services.
2016 could be a trying year for OTT (over-the-top) network services such as Skype and Google Hangouts, as proceedings from sessions of Parliament could determine an inquiry into WhatsApp regulation in South Africa.
OTT services allow applications and services to send messages and make calls over data networks at traditionally lower rates than traditional telephone calls or SMS messages. Read: WhatsApp makes voice calling even cheaper
Two of South Africa’s largest networks, Vodacom and MTN, have pushed for WhatsApp regulation in South Africa in addition to the policing of other OTT services.
The South African Portfolio committee on Telecommunications and Postal Services confirmed to Fin24 that hearings into the possible regulation of such services have been scheduled for the 26th of January.
The committee is presently trying to secure a venue for the hearings, which will be open to the public. “WhatsApp is obviously in the forefront. You know why the mobiles (mobile networks) are upset: It’s a revenue question. But we’re also talking about TeamViewer, Google Hangouts, Viber etc,“ said Dominic Cull, a communications regulatory expert at Ellipsis Regulatory Solutions in an exclusive interview to Fin24.
“The parties which are in the firing line here – in terms of the regulation – are not the usual suspects such as ISPs (internet service providers) and smaller players looking to compete. We’re talking about Facebook, Google, Microsoft and the like…” “So, we’re talking about substantial multinationals that have an interest here.” Cull elaborated.
The planned hearing is scheduled to discuss the impact of OTT services on competition, and to further discuss methods of regulating such services.
We will continue to bring coverage on the story as news develops. In the meantime, share your thoughts with us in the comments below.