Now that Nigeria is in a recession, telecom operators in the country are looking for ways to shore up after losing a lot of revenue to the recession. Experts in the sector hope that this measure will boost revenue.
They hope that by blocking subscribers from accessing Skype and other Over-the-Top services, they can successfully recoup lost revenue.
Some of the services include certain functions like voice and video calls on WhatsApp and Facebook, among other OTT services.
“It is an aggressive approach to stop further revenue loss to OTT players on international calls, having already lost about N100tn between 2012 and 2017,” a manager at one of the major telecoms in the country said. He also mentioned that if that cannot be done now, the results will disastrous. The loss for telecoms companies may be as large as N30tn.
According to reports, services like Skype and Facebook voice calls eat up to 50 percent of profits of telecoms companies in Nigeria. A foreign-based research company stated that telecoms sector in Nigeria may have to live with losses for six years, starting from 2012 to 2018.
As part of the fallout, operators blame the Nigerian Communications Commission [NCC]for not properly regulating the sector in order to protect and keep them in business.
In reply, NCC said it cannot regulate the Internet. However it appears, Skype seems to be the service that adds pain to telecoms service operations worldwide mostly. Experts liken Skype to an individual who takes undue advantage of other people’s generosity without giving anything in return. Globally, there is this apprehension among telecoms operators that Skype only steals their customers, while they invest billions of dollars to build, expand and upgrade networks.
In the fight, telecoms operators vow to keep looking for a way to win if NCC will not offer support. They would keep struggling to counter a trend in which the prices of basic voice and data services were declining.
The most difficult part for the telecoms operators is that the OTTs allow users to send unlimited texts, images, video and audio messages free of charge, using their current data plans. Yet, because Skype and other entities like it are not licensed, and because they have not built any infrastructure locally, they do not have the same costs as the licensed operators.
Many telecoms operators worldwide, including some companies in the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Spain, prohibit their mobile phone customers from downloading Skype’s software, or outlaw the use of voice over the Internet phone services in their standard sales contracts. Other carriers have imposed fees to undermine Skype’s attraction.
Moreover, barriers to Skype software and similar Internet calling services are coming under increasing scrutiny as the Internet goes mobile. What about Nigeria?