The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) announced on Tuesday that it will soon start regulating the activities of Over-The-Top (OTT) players in the Nigerian telecommunications market.
OTT players are platforms to include Facebook, Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, Blackberry Messenger (BBM) and WeChat, among others, that deliver audio, video, and other media over the Internet without the involvement of a multiple-system operator in the control or distribution of the content.
The NCC said that it will device legitimate ways to regulate the OTT players across the country.
According to the telecom regulator, the OTT operate without any carrier service provider being involved in planning, selling or servicing them, which implies that the traditional telecommunications operators such as MTN, Glo, Airtel, Etisalat and Visafone, among others, cannot directly earn revenue from their activities.
NCC, in a 23 page document titled: ‘An Overview of Provision of Over-The-Top (OTT) Services’ confirmed that the growing influence of the social media platforms posed apparent threats to the operation of traditional telephone networks.
The Chairman of ETTelecoms.com, Bharti-Mittal had earlier voiced his frustration for checks on the operations of OTT players, noting that the OTT must be subjected to the same rules governing telecommunications operators.
Speaking to ETTelecoms.com, the chairman said: “If you are subjecting telecoms operators to KYC, licence fees, it should be uniform. Regulators should allow the best technology to compete, and then the fourth industry revolution would have been created. The industry is as it were 10 years back, the OTT has seriously encroached on our services.”
NCC further explained that OTT is a service based on the Voice over IP communication protocol (VoIP), a disruptive technology that is rapidly gaining ground against traditional telephone network technologies, adding that the increase in uptake of mobile VoIP services provided by apps such as Google, Facebook, Skype, Viber and WhatsApp, among others, telecom operators “face the risk of eroding revenues and profitability.”