Mobile networks Vodacom and MTN has recently come under fire for apparently approaching the government in an attempt to get service like WhatsApp regulated.
Not only didn’t it sit well with the public, but technology analyst Arthur Goldstuck is concerned over the speed at which the government has managed to organise a hearing of Parliament’s telecommunications committee to discuss the matter.
“Quickly their parliamentary portfolio committee has agreed to have the hearing, usually it takes longer, so clearly they are under heavy pressure from the network operators,” he told Eyewitness News.
Ultimately Vodacom and MTN want WhatsApp to be regulated in terms of data use, so that both operators can make money off the public from the use of the service – which is currently free, except for the tiny amounts of data that it uses.
Rival network Cell C recently lambasted the networks, saying that Vodacom and MTN is “maintaining their stranglehold” on SA’s economic and social future.
“MTN and Vodacom have declared war on consumer interests. The infamous duopoly wants to limit how we use Internet services like WhatsApp – and it has nothing to do with fairness, competition or the future of South Africa,”Cell C CEO Jose Dos Santos.
“To the contrary, it is all about maintaining their stranglehold on a vital artery feeding our country’s economic and social future,” he added.
Goldstuck doesn’t think that Parliament will pass regulations that will increase network revenue, but it does show that certain OTT services like WhatsApp are eating into the profits of networks. With WhatsApp in particular, it is possible to message contacts as well as make voice calls through the service – at a fraction of what it would cost to make them traditionally.