The executive vice chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, Umar Dambatta, has allayed fears that the commission planned to regulate the social media.
Mr. Dambatta dispelled concerns during a session hosted by the NCC at the ongoing Social Media Week in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the SMW in Lagos, which is holding from February 22 to February 26, has the theme, “The Networked Africa: Technology’s Impact on Africa (And How We Can Harness It For Good)”.
Represented by the Public Affairs Director, NCC, Tony Ojobo, he said fears had been expressed by the public on the publication of the regulatory body on the provision of Over The Top (OTT) services.
“Fears are being expressed that the NCC wants to start regulating OTT services. These fears are misplaced.
“For the purpose of clarity, OTT services are services carried over the networks, delivering value to customers.
“But these services are without any carrier/service provider being involved in planning, selling, provisioning or servicing them, thereby implying that traditional telecoms companies cannot directly earn revenue from such services.
“These OTT services include services such as Internet Protocol (IP) telephony, live streaming and other social media applications.
“At best, the technology is disruptive and global responses have been mixed. What the NCC paper has done is to elevate the value and quality of discourse on the issue,” Mr. Dambatta said.
He recalled that at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Global Symposium for regulators which held in Gabon in 2015, some operators expressed concern over the activities of OTT operators and how they affect baseline returns in the industry.
According to him, an operator suggested that “OTT players are eating the operators’ lunch,’’ since they are not regulated and have no investment to increase their cost base.
He added that in a summary report of the symposium, it was counselled that “operators and regulators alike should consider carefully before coming to any conclusions on whether OTT players should be regulated (as per operators) or whether existing regulations should be withdrawn.
“The regulator’s objective should be to catalyse additional opportunities offered by OTT services to the benefit of the consumer.
“Its objective should be to support competition, while avoiding the OTT related risks in the areas of security and data protection.
“One salient conclusion in the OTT Services report published by the commission is that it acknowledged the fears of traditional telecoms service providers that traditional telephony and SMS revenues are under threat from newer IP-based alternatives like WhatsApp, Skype, Viber, etc.
“The document, however, recommended that the commission should encourage network providers in Nigeria to innovate and explore more efficient business models that would enable them compete favourably with OTT service providers,” he said.
NAN also reports that Social Media Week is the largest technology, new media and business conference on the continent of Africa.
With attendees from across Africa and around the world, the SMW Lagos explores a wide range of topics including education, business, travel, entertainment, technology, arts, banking and politics.