South Africa's parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Telecommunications and Postal Services met this week to discuss whether or not 'over the top' (OTT) services such as WhatsApp and Facebook should be subject to regulation and face extra taxation for their apps to be available on the country's mobile networks.
The discussion was called after lobbying by South Africa's two largest operators, MTN and Vodacom, which want to see mobile messaging services brought under the same regulatory framework as SMS.
Both MTN and Vodacom have been vocal in their desire to see OTTs regulated over the past couple of years, and are not alone on the continent. Earlier in January, Morocco banned VoIP services over mobile networks.
In submissions to the committee, MTN and Vodacom argued that their profits are being hurt by falling voice and SMS revenues, and yet data-based messaging apps are getting a free ride.
MTN's Graham de Vries said the issue is compounded by many of the OTT players selling advertising in the country, but not paying tax on their revenues
mi pare sia arrivato il momento che gli OTT facciano un passo verso un atteggiamento piu' conciliante nei confronti degli stati nazionali e concordino un iter regolmentare, prima che gli stati stessi intervengano con la clava.