Nigeria may regulate use of WhatsApp, BBM, Facebook, Skype in country

Photo: www.skyscrapercity.com
Photo: www.skyscrapercity.com

The Nigerian Communications Commission is considering a framework for the regulation of over-the-top services in the Nigerian telecoms market.

Over-the-top services, otherwise known as OTT, 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.

OTT services are offered through Internet communication.

In Nigeria, the most common OTT services are WhatsApp messenger, BlackBerry Messenger, Facebook, and Skype which are classified under social media applications.

In other words, telecom operators such as MTN, Etisalat, Glo, and Airtel lack direct control or influence over WhatsApp messenger, BBM, Facebook or Skype.

Internet telephony and live streaming are also part of OTT services.

The growth of OTT services is encouraged by the access to 3G and 4G networks which offer mobile broadband and high speed IP data.

A 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.

Besides, the report said since 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) cannot 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.”

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  • Logically speaking

    The network operators should realise the internet is the future. Anyone of them that can provide the best data service at the most competitive price will dominate the market. They should start planning ahead and not look for avenues to cow their regulatory agencies into a purely business affair. In advanced countries their are operators that only provide WiFi networks and don’t bother themselves with voice and SMS service.

  • Uwadiegwu

    Decree Number 4 making a comeback with fangs. This is another step by President Bokohari to return Nigeria to his draconian rule of 1984.

  • Harry

    This isn’t the problem Nigeria faces at the moment. There are a lot more important things that this government should turn their immediate attention to and not dabble into irrelevant issues.

  • Mein Kampf

    NCC is bereft of technological know how. Have they heard of VPN’s, proxy servers, TOR. ….. regulate all you like we will always get through. For example I am using an Internet plan that costs =N=150/week for 7gb of data/week.

    Cut the cables………..

    • The Percolator

      Which plan is this and how can I get it?

    • Ahmed Liasu

      I beg fill me in. Thanks.

    • Mein Kampf

      Simple server, tweakware, psiphon. Research them, works on phone and pc

  • Mariam Abdullahi

    PURCHASE DANG0T£ 3x C£M£NT TODAY,AT A_FACTORY_PRICE OF ONE THOUSAND
    NAIRA PER 50KG BAG, CONTACT THE SALES DEPARTMENT MRS_ADEWALE
    {O81-634-718-23} FOR ORDER, DELIVERY ARE MADE FROM THE FACTORY, TO YOUR
    DESTINATION ANYWHERE, ANYTIME.

  • 24087

    Is this how it is done else where . NCC should. Focus their energy to for net work provider for quality services like drop calls ,poor voice and data quality services by the GSM companies .

  • kuli

    You can’t fight or regulate the internet.

    Businesses innovate to stay relevant. These draconian means of stifling technology is a losing strategy.

    • share Idea

      We need Buhari’s Body language to make this happen in Niger. lol

  • The Percolator

    This is such a futile effort and shows a lack of depth of understanding of the nature of Internet. This issue has been litigated and explored extensively by the FCC over Netflix riding on the infrastructure of ISPs. You can charge more for the bandwidth (if you can) but you cannot tax thousands of apps using the internet. Not possible… there are hundreds of ways to bypass any restriction and there are plenty of apps coming out each day. NCC and the Telcos should focus on providing better internet service and charge for it.

  • ‘incense & frankincense’

    @disqus_vc44ejUDM7:disqus

    Nigerians! Nigerians! Nigerians! A fascist government is upon you.

    Nowhere in history was a fascist government removed by election.

    A fascist government with an Islamist hue like APC is a virulent strain.

    Nigerians are in trouble but they do no know this truth, as they see it unfold.

  • Felix Udoh

    Here cometh their ‘Change’.

  • evidence

    The voice of NCC but the hand of buhari. Decrees 2 and 4 loading…….‎

  • FreeNigeria

    OTT is not free as user still have to buy data or wireless service from network carriers. Network carriers are making lots of money cos of OTT data usage. So NCC should stop milking Nigerians dry. We are already paying too much for these bad network service.

  • persona

    A bad workman blames his tools. The telcos over the years have milked and intend to continue but have they heard of the word DISRUPTION?
    The issue here is simple, technology will cannibalize another that is not ready for the switch.
    Solution: NCC should allow the Telcos use their existing license to provide regular ISP functions so they can compete favorably.
    Glo and MTN have submarine cables which has been redundant. Voice is the new frontier and how you make it matters less so if the telcos are smart, they will invest in good radios that will serve LTE now so that subscribers can buy a whole bundle of Talk, Text and Web at a reasonable price. The more they delay, the more they become obsolete. Netflix is here almost about to cannibalize DSTV and the interesting part is, they all don’t have to set up shop in the country. For one, BBM will never let their servers be compromised. Pakistan, UAE, India etc all have tried it and they always end up letting them be. The telcos and NCC guys are obviously working in concert to milk Nigerians.
    As regards the safety online, does the telcos and NCC secure from phishing before? They should know some of us are more knowledgeable that they are and any attempt to attempt an attempt, will be bypassed easily making a mockery of the laws they plan on implementing. The bane of the black man is to always act like sub humans and in the end, its why the continent refuses to grow.

    • share Idea

      Thanks for the aptly comment

      • persona

        finally we agree on something. We need to make these guys think outside the box as against their usual rent seeking attitude.

        • Lanre

          They can never stop looking for rent-seeking opportunities. When you don’t produce or manufacture anything, what else do you live on?

    • Well said.

  • Harrison Arubu

    What other control are the telecom operators looking for? Don’t we buy data from them to access the OTT services?

    • share Idea

      The government believed that they are communicating with primary 6 citizens. Has anybody received WhatsApp message or FaceBook message through their phone when there is no credit Data bundle on such phone. Does it mean that money paid to buy DATA bundles are not remitted to telecom company, they should find another excuse.

      No doubt there is increasing competition in the telecom industry all over the world and telecom companies are evolving new strategy to remain in business. The government should make the business environment conducive for the company to operate without adding additional burdens (like demand for gratification before they can get legitimate services from government, infrastructure needs to be improved) to them so that they remain competitive.

      It is this kind of concern raised in the article that made me to believe that administrators at NCC does not understand the current situation when they levied MTN 25% of FG budget in the name fine.

  • International games

    Should we be riding Horses because Cars will keep Horsemen unemployed? Let the Horsemen learn to drive cars. Government is to help the people’s lives, not find a way to make it more difficult. This is Technology. Let us use it.

    • Ayodeji Ajimisinmi

      Couldn’t have said it any better. I wonder whose interest the NCC has..itself?, ISPs? or us?

  • Rumournaire

    This is complete ignorance. Certainly, our mobile phone operators make money from use of these services – WhatsApp, BB, Skype, etc. The services all require the carrier’s data service, and I am not aware that any of them gives data bandwidth for free! (I buy N2000 data for my smartphone every 3 weeks or so.) In fact, it is believed that some of these carriers deliberately initiate chain messages (“Forward this message to all your friends”) to increase data usage so they make more money. I am amazed at the level of ignorance among our policy-making think-tanks. Shameful!

    • Harrison Arubu

      Gbam! I just wonder o.

    • Maria

      Yes they make money…but your argument is no different from saying that you only need to buy a smartphone but use Glo or MTN services for free because Apple whose smartphone you use has made its bulks from your purchase. All these communication services run on physical infrastructure they do not own.

      • joe

        I beg to differ. A user of any piece of software on a mobile phone is not different from the user of a software (e.g. a browser) on a PC. An Internet Service Provider, which is mostly also the telephone company, cannot ask a subscriber to pay more because he is using msn messenger or skype to make a (video) chat on his PC, instead of calling from the landline As a subscriber,I have paid for the infrastructure and it should not matter the kind of data being transmitted over the wire (voice,text or whatever).

      • balafama

        u need to keep quiet maria .u sure sound clueless .u r saying its ok for people to pay twice for same thing . pay for data then pay for free apps .even if we are to pay, shouldn’t it be to the app operators like whats up and not to the isp’s. its a rip off and i’m appalled u support this garbage in a country where 50% live on less than a dollar a day . shame on u. wonder how much u personally stand to gain .

  • Olisa Maduka

    The NCC and most other Nigerian regulatory agencies don’t seem to know their jobs; regulatory bodies are supposed to protect the general consumer public from being exploited by big companies not encourage and support those companies in exploiting Nigerians like the NCC and NERC are doing.

    In case the NCC is still trying to find their way into the present world of the internet and communication, I’ll graciously offer them help by advising them to research the Net Neutrality laws and the various debates held over it in the EU and the United States, both of which have effectively enacted the law into operation in their various regions.

    If the current telcos are so uneducated that they cannot think of better ways to adapt to the times then they deserve to go out of business, atleast this way better companies will rise in their place.

    NCC, serve Nigerians as you are supposed to.

  • MilitaryPolice01

    This level of reasoning shows us the poor level of intelligence at the top level of leadership in the country. This is worse than the lowest level of illiteracy to argue in favour of almost outdated traditional form of communication. But let them go ahead and implement it just then they will realise that it now very late to retain the country back to feudal medieval ages

  • Angry Niaja

    This does not seem right, who are these people working for!!??

  • Femi T.

    No regulations necessary, the telecom firms did not develop the apps that make it necessary to make these calls. If payment should be for the services then it should go the app developers. The internet providers are already being paid for access to the internet and data.
    I believe this a collusion between the regulatory agencies and the service providers. This regulatory agency is encouraging exhort and be stopped. Finally Nigerians are getting little financial relieve and they want to take it away. What kind of people are these, Na wa o.

  • Factsay

    They just want to reduce freedom of sharing information and communication.

    Buhari is a dictator and does not like being exposed or criticized.

    This change tends to be backward to stone age

    • Maria

      Your comment shows you are a big time-moron….Did you read the article at all or you read it but could not understand it? Read it again.

      • Factsay

        Sharap apc slave

        • Maria

          Tell your useless mama to sharap…

    • Daniel

      But they accused Jonathan of employing the Israeli Elbeit Systems to gag us. Guess we are having fun with a baggage of hypocrisy from the APC.

      • Factsay

        My broda d thing dey surprise me oo

  • Anti Hypocrisy

    Gagging of the citizens loading…
    Chained abi change is here.

  • Maria

    I read this whole article no where has it said that such regulation is meant to monitor and gag people for communicating on it. The regulation is just the same way traditional telecommunication system is regulated for profits and better service quality delivery. In advanced countries, such regulation is allowed because it is not about stifling people, it is about operational regulations. I strongly welcome such development. But ignoramus are already f00lishly making uninformed comments… I know for sure USA not only regulate Internet communication but have access to every bit of data transmitted on the Internet. The chats or email you think you are secretly exchanging between you and god-knows who is open on the Internet. Just the same way a switching engineer in a traditional telco can listen to your telephone conversations.

    • FactsandFigures

      “I know for sure USA not only regulate Internet communication but have access to every bit of data transmitted on the Internet”. Not any longer…..one of the outcome of Snowden’s expose on NSA activities.

      • Maria

        How come some sites are blocked? How do you block some sites if you dont monitor?

        • FactsandFigures

          Give me an example of a blocked site…..I am not aware of any…..except for those not allowed due to copyright infringement.

  • Daniel

    None of those apps can work without data services. So what are they talking about? They are only grumbling because it is cheap.

  • Bayo Ola

    Typical of Africans, the traditional telephone network operators in Nigeria are focusing on muzzling innovation instead of innovating to leverage on existing incremental innovation to their own advantage. If the operators of Internet telephony don’t pay tolls for their services, the best any decent company would consider doing is to create another incremental technology that will harvest these users and migrate them to a more robust pay for service platform. MTN, Etisalat, Glo should know that even if they bribe Nigeria corrupt officials to have their ways in Nigeria, they cannot stop radical innovation from taking place globally. Such decision will not only come back to bite MTN, Etisalat, Glo eta al, but will lock them out of glbal competiveness. Radical innovation cannot be stopped. Innovative companies leverage on cutting edge technology to innovate and improve on existing incremental innovation to gain market. MTN, Etisalat, Glo should come for a free tutorial here!

  • dami

    im sure the service providers are not grumbling…they have the technology to know when you are chatting or watching a video…even tho they cannot see your chat context or your actual video…but this technology exists and connects to the billing platform so they make money from data sales….
    this is coming from the old baba’s in government who are too stuck in the old ways of doing things and have no idea of what the present capabilities of technology can deliver….sai baba…old baba…government of babas….we will resist this or vote you out come 2019
    trying to gag free speech through the back door….shoo

    • Igwe

      allow the thieves

  • ike

    We are beggining to reap the evil rewards of buhari trips to countries like Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries. this policy is clearly part of buharis import from Arab countries where similar policies exist. Next is to make every Nigerian woman to wear the hijab in public. Welcome to Islamic country of Nigeria.

  • This may be another undoing of this fraudulent administration among many. Let them go for their repressive policies why it last. There will be electral payback in 2019. Thank God.

    • tundemash

      Dummy, did u read this while frying chips at MacDonalds ? This is the usual attempt by telecoms operators through NCC to stifle out competition if you have any sense at all. It’s an old trick and each time they fail and this time won’t be any different. Face your chips-frying business and leaving critical thinking for those who actually attended a proper school!

      • sammy

        @tundemsh did you actually read very well what @George said?are you amonge those who actualy attended a proper school but can spell George as Geroge

        • tundemash

          Dummy, what are u struggling with in what your fellow dummy said ?

      • You sure forgot to take your psychiatric medications recently. This forum isn’t for dumb ass. Keep ranting with your delusional thought process while reasonable citizens remain constructive. Net Neutrality means no unnecessary intrusion into access to cyberspace by anybody including the government. Don’t you get it? Dumb ass.

        • tundemash

          Once again, do not respond when frying chips at MacDonalds. I have been in telecoms business ever before you became an illegal immigrant in US and telecoms companies using their cronies in NCC to stifle competition is an old trick. How does that make this administration fraudulent Mr. Sore Loser ? Stop infecting your mates with ignorance!

          • Mr “Illegal immigrant in US” . Mr “Telecom business “. You need to read your rant to yourself. You make me laugh. I’ve no time for this crap. I understand efforts are also on to levy more tarrif on nonexistent electricity. Then I’ll see how you’ll even have access to BBM, WHATSAPP etc in darkness. By the way, we learnt the power generation has dropped by 40%. Damnn….

          • tundemash

            Cl0wn keep assuming ! Ask your forebearer Deri where I live. I am not a village idi0t like you to attach a location to my name. It is a sign of inferiority complex to attach a location to your name since you feel empty if no one knows where you fry chips at MacDonalds. a mor0n assumes anyone online without a location to his name must be living in Nigeria; what a compound f00l !!!!

          • Well I attached a location to my name and still involved myself in e-politics in Nigeria. And i’m proud. I’m a free citizen of mother earth. I live wherever I want. I don’t care where you are in Nigeria. I saw your location with the app on my phablet. I hope you are ready for the hike in tariff and net censorship imposed by the tyrant. You dumb asshole.

          • tundemash

            Mor0n, stop deluding yourself; you are a village idi0t. Govt. all over the world hike tariff and tax as they deem fit. Net Censorship happens in United States as revealed by the Snowden expose. Same applies in UK, Dubai, Russia and any country that takes national security serious so stop farting around here. Cl0wn, if you know my location, why not just say it and stop f00ling yourself. Olodo who is not proud of the unfortunate village he came from. How many Americans you see attach Nigeria or UK to their name. You suffer from acute inferiority complex !

          • What is in a name? You are surely not proud of your name. I’ve just leverage the increasing power of dollar at my business meeting, to explore our future investment in Nigeria and West Africa. That would not happen until Nigeria has reliable economic policies. Nothing good is coming from the current free fall of Naira due to cluelessness.
            Talking of Snowdon and Natural Security of US has further exposed your ignorance. I won’t even engage you on that topic.
            We’ll reverse all the oppressive policies after 2019 when Nigeria returns to a democracy……AGAIN.

    • Igwe

      Okponu!

  • joe

    Is this a joke?So this government wants to stifle innovations Instead of encouraging them. Are the carriers not making money from the dataplans. ?Shouldn’t the government be protecting the interest of consumers instead of that of the carriers?Is it a government of the people or the government of carriers?

    • Ozone

      Very correct. I had the same thought as well. The Telcos are seeking way to make more money!

  • Igwe

    Stay the hell away from OTT entities!
    Allow old technology to have the natural death they deserve.

  • Gugurus Ekpa

    This is exactly how the elite keep Nigeria backwards.

  • Lanre

    The reason why Buhari appointed Magaji Dambatta, the Kano born university lecturer, to head the NCC.

  • Ayodeji Ajimisinmi

    We better not delve into what we are not ready for. There is no framework, capacity, infrastructure or intelligence to handle this issue of monitoring OTT. There are other pressing issues that need monitoring and are more important and achieviable. Instead, channel efforts into pipeline vandalisation, insurgency and crime prevention. No do pass ur power o!