The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is considering a framework that will regulate all ‘Over-The -Top,’ OTT, social media services in the Nigerian telecommunications sector. The OTT social media services are offered through Internet communication and as described, they are services carried over the networks, delivering value to customers, but without any carrier service provider being involved in planning, selling, provisioning, or servicing them.
Among hundreds of social networks all over the world, WhatsApp messenger, BlackBerry Messenger, Facebook, and Skype are the most common in Nigeria which other telecom operators such as MTN, Etisalert, Glo, and Airtel do not have direct control or influence on.
Internet telephony and live streaming are also part of OTT services. It is well known that the growth of OTT services is encouraged by the access to 3G and 4G networks which offer mobile broadband and high speed IP data.
According to report, ‘An Overview of Provision of Over The Top (OTT)Services,’ published recently by the Policy, Competition & Economic Analysis Department of the Nigerian Communications Commission, says OTT services were becoming a threat to the traditional telephone network operators. This development, the report said, is a global issue.
The threat, according to the NCC report, comes from the fact that Internet telephony is not only cheap, and free in some cases, but it also offers many features previously unavailable with telephones, therefore making it more attractive to consumers.
And unlike the traditional telephone network operator, the operators of Internet telephony don’t pay tolls for their services. And according to the rather complaint report, since the telecom operators such as MTN, Etisalat, Glo and Airtel do not have control over WhatsApp, BBM, Facebook and the rest of the social media applications, they (the telecom operators) do not generate revenues from services offered through these applications
The report said;
“Many traditional telecom service providers are of the opinion that traditional telephony and SMS revenues are under threat from newer, IP based alternatives like WhatsApp, Skype, Viber, etc.
“Similarly, third party web content and social networking companies such as Google and Facebook are increasingly generating huge revenues and driving high levels of data traffic which ride on the broadband networks of traditional telecom operators’.
“To further worsen this issue, the traditional operators still have to make significant investments in upgrading their networks to handle the increasing volume of data generated by the same providers of OTT services.
“Most traditional telephone network service providers therefore argue that unless there is a revenue flow to them from such services, they do not have an incentive to continue to maintain or upgrade the networks,” the report said.
The NCC also believed there is need for some kind of regulation because OTT services portend security risks to the country.
“Because VoIP relies on your Internet connection, it may be vulnerable to many of the same problems that face computers,” the report said.
“Attackers may be able to perform activities such as intercepting communications, eavesdropping, taking control of phones, making fraudulent calls from an account, conducting effective phishing attacks by manipulating one’s caller ID, and causing service to crash.”