There are indications that Nigerian Communications Commission is seriously considering the regulation of over-the-top (OTT) services in the country.
In case you didn’t know, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Netflix and the likes are all considered OTT services.
One reason behind the plan to regulate these services is the fact that the authorities claim they pose a great danger to the core business of telecom service providers because they don’t directly earn revenue from them.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), in a document titled “An Overview of Provision of Over-The-Top [OTT] Services” described OTT as “services carried over the networks, delivering value to customers, but without any carrier service provider being involved in planning, selling, provisioning, or servicing them.”
Another reason for the planned regulation is claims that telecom operators loose revenue as a result of the popular use of mobile messaging and internet calls, which are replacing traditional calls and SMSes at the speed of light.
In the above mentioned document, the NCC stated that OTT service is “a disruptive technology that is rapidly gaining ground against traditional telephone network technologies.”
This claim is further backed by reports that, MTN, Nigeria’s biggest telecom network, saw its average revenue per user drop with regards to subscription base last year.
The NCC report also looked into other issues. The report claimed OTT services now overwhelm their telecom networks and with diminishing revenues, they have little incentive to invest and improve broadband capability.
Also, the report also looked into the security risks posed by the use OTT services. They expressed fears, especially as it relates to identity theft and intercepting communications, due to the lack of oversight.
In all, the NCC report raises the need to evaluate the possibility of OTT services paying for the use of network infrastructure even though we all know the telecom operators earn revenue from data charges through which users’ access OTT services.
The Nigerian Communications Commission is not the first regulatory body that’s trying to regulate OTT services. Last year, regulators raised the issue in India, and recently, South African regulators considered doing same.