Business Hilights
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Start regulating OTT now to save businesses, ALTON cries out to NCC, CBN, others

Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators (ALTON), Engr. Gbenga Adebayo has raised fresh alarm on the urgent need to start the regulation of Over-The-Top (OTT) players to create a scenario of win-win situation in the financial services sector.
Accordingly, ALTON has called on the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to evolve a regulatory framework capable of making both OTT players and mainstream telecoms to remain in business without dagger-point relationship as it is now.
Otherwise, the telecoms industry body insists that the time has come for the regulator to re-examine its position on issuing technology neutral licences because of emerging issues in the industry.
In his submission, Adebayo argued that the sudden surge in OTT services have enormous social, economic, security implications due to the fact that they are not licensed and regulated which now pose trade danger for telecoms.
He said “That means they are not regulated and if they are not regulated, there is no limit or scope to what they can do. And no control over their services and content they can provide.”
“In real truth, the problem is the proliferation of Over the Top messaging apps and internet calls, which use the internet to deliver content, is eating into the revenue of Main Network Operators (MNOs) used to enjoy.
Business Hilights recalls that Ovum, an independent analyst and consultancy in telecoms space has averred that “The growing adoption of OTT services by customers instead of traditional telecoms services will occasion global revenue loss of $386bn over a period of six years (2012 – 2018) for the traditional telecom operators, thus endangering network development.
Ovum stressed further that “Some of the ’displacement effect’ according to Adebayo are ‘declining voice minutes due to impact of OTT while VoIP has been increasing, OTT Data flux has been increasing as shown with the 2016 data, Telcos are losing money due to this trend.’
He said that urgent action is required to save Telcos further loss due to activities of OTT players who do not invest in infrastructure.
“Telecom Operators incur the Costs while OTT players make the money. Telecom operators invest a lot on network infrastructure in order to provide basic and innovative services to customers. Core voice and SMS revenues are decreasing continuously due to impact of OTT players who offer voice, video and messaging services free of charge to their users. Telecom operators will continue to invest a lot to make the networks support the data tsunami, with the required quality of service and numerous innovative services.
“On the top of their infrastructures and customers, they will strive to keep with huge investments, the OTTs are offering contents & applications, using huge amount of Telecoms bandwidth, collecting revenues but paying nothing to the Telco operators and to the government.”
He added that, the increasing adoption of OTT applications by telecom subscribers negatively impact on incoming international traffic as well as SMS at huge cost to the Telecoms but revenue to OTT.
“OTT players also hold many customers personal data they can use for any desired purpose without risk of being sanctioned by the government while Telecoms are not permitted to use or disclose subscriber information to third party.”
ALTON however recommends in line with international trends, ’same service, same licensing” regime to avoid distortion in the digital landscape,” latest Ovum report pointed out.