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Internet providers urge cell firms to innovate

Internet providers urge cell firms to innovateJOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – SOUTH Africa’s Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) has urged the country’s mobile operators to develop new ways to partner and compete with innovative over-the-top content (OTT) services to drive the uptake of broadband.

Graham Beneke, ISPA Chair, pointed because OTT services were finding growing favour with many contract and prepaid mobile users, South Africa’s mobile network operators were concerned about the impact on their revenues.

This has resulted in Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Telecommunications and Postal Services scheduling a meeting for next week to discuss the possible regulation of OTT services.

“History tells us that you cannot regulate progress out of existence,” Beneke said.

“Imagine how the GDP-boosting growth of cellular phones in South Africa would have been constrained if Telkom had decided in 1994 to approach Parliament with the unworkable idea that landlines and cellphones should be bundled together in order to protect its monopoly?” Beneke quipped.

Beneke pointed out there had previously been suggestions of blocking services like Skype on fixed-line networks, at a time when Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services were reserved for a limited number of operators.

“Since the evolution of our regulatory environments, these services have been liberalised and form part of the value proposition for broadband customers,” said Beneke.

ISPA said it was encouraged that some network operators were on record as saying that they were committed to establishing an amicable relationship with OTTs. ISPs – which have for more than a decade been using IP networks.

They therefore welcome services that increase demand for this capacity.

This increase in data demand was also identified by other networks, including mobile networks, as a major driver of their revenue growth.

“Africa desperately needs OTTs to grow Internet participation. Attempting to regulate this technology will hinder the continent’s ICT development, be a technical nightmare to enforce, and simply encourage the growth of a plethora of other lesser-known messaging applications,” said Beneke.

OTT is the term used for the transmission of voice and data communication by cellular network customers.

CAJ News

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