Sunday, September 20

Should South African telecomms providers block Whatsapp?

With MTN’s recent outlash against Whatsapp and its entire management, with Mteto Nyati, the Chief Executive of MTN, calling out Whatsapp on the grounds of infrastructural development and investment, it is only logical to think that other service providers might have been harboring such bitter truths too and MTN was just the first one to leak the secret.

MTN, who would have invested some R10 billion into its South African arm of operations by the end of 2015 called on Icasa, the regulating body, to make sure that these network providers and OTTs such as Whatsapp are on a level playing ground.

Various telecommunications providers in South Africa have then been asked questions on their views concerning the growth of the most downloaded application in South Africa today and the effects on their business.

Vodacom was straightforward, telling outright that it had no reason to block the app usage but then evadingly answered the question of whether or not the charges applicable to the use of the OTT would increase.

“There are various factors that determine the charge for a service, including the charge for WhatsApp service,” said Vodacom’s Coporate Affairs head Tshepo Ramodibe.

“These include customer demand, the impact of the service on network (demand and utilisation), the quality of service, requirements for the service, and the management of the network to achieve overall efficiency.”

Cell C on the other hand has shown Whatsapp that it has nothing to worry about. Fighting for the OTTs cause in words, the CEO of Cell C has said that instead of looking for ways to get these OTTs regulated, they should be embraced and partnered with otherwise.

“Charging more or regulating charges for over-the-top-players is ludicrous. Operators should be finding ways of partnering with OTT players instead of calling on regulatory bodies to intervene,” said CEO Jose Dos Santos.

“Cell C continues to embrace these players and generate beneficial partnerships with them.”

Telkom took a more practical approach to their answer, stating that although they had no plan to block or limit Whatsapp, the revenue from SMS is truly dwindling year after year and as such, network providers need to find ways to stay on top of that food chain.

So there you have it, everyone’s mind, out there.

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