Ngcaba warns against OTT regulation - TechCentral

Ngcaba warns against OTT regulation

Andile Ngcaba

Andile Ngcaba

Well-known ICT sector businessman Andile Ngcaba has warned that South Africa’s mobile networks “risk redundancy” if they fail to develop innovative ways to benefit from over-the-top (OTT) technologies.

Ngcaba, speaking in his capacity as chairman of the Wi-Fi Forum of South Africa, warned that mobile networks could end up in museums if they fail to innovate.

“Telegraph equipment can now be found in museums because those firms didn’t innovate. Nobody wants our mobile networks to end up in museums because they didn’t recognise a market-disrupting technology as an opportunity,” Ngcaba said at a parliamentary meeting on OTT services on Tuesday.

Warning that moves to regulate OTT services would be misplaced, Ngcaba said: “The Internet cannot be governed and must be embraced.”

Far from being a threat, “OTT applications such as WhatsApp are motivating to Africa’s youth”, said Ngcaba.

“Every young person wants to develop the next WhatsApp and we should be encouraging the building and exporting of apps, not trying to wish them away in a spirit of complacency.”

He said there is no evidence that OTT services are harming the revenues of telecoms operators.

“Moves to regulate budget-friendly communication services like WhatsApp and Skype come at a time when consumers are set to be hit by further interest rate and cost of living increases,” he added.

Ngcaba is chairman of Dimension Data Middle East and Africa and is a former director-general of the department of communications (now telecoms & postal services).  — (c) 2016 NewsCentral Media

  • Vusumuzi Sibiya

    >>Warning that moves to regulate OTT services would be misplaced, Ngcaba said: “The Internet cannot be governed and must be embraced.”

    This is the kind of difference in commentary that you get from a knowledgeable person; and which sets them apart from so many of the clueless person(s) (actually clowns) deployed in positions that they should not be in to begin with.

  • Angelo

    He’s 100% correct.. And the current Parliamentary Portfolio committee should at least listen to him, even if they refuse to listen to anyone else. It’s interesting that most of the people making opposition noises against this completely brain-dead proposal are ‘veterans’ of exactly the same nonsense we had to go through 18-odd years ago (which Andile was part of – on the right side) having to deal (firstly) with Telkom trying to ‘own’ Internet delivery and services in SA, and then not so long after, dealing with the stupidity of trying to ‘ban’ VOIP. This is no different, and big-ups to Andile for this representation.. It’s like telecoms groundhog day.. in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king and the similarities of these ‘interventions’ by government to the government interventions of 20-odd years ago is strikingly similar..and that already set us back 10-odd ‘internet’ years.. Who is ever accountable for the massive social and economic impact that such ‘interventions’ have? Don’t worry – we all know the answer to that question…..

  • dominic

    his presentation was closely listened to and the only one applauded

  • Jannie van Zyl

    Andile gave an excellent talk. His views on innovation is spot on.

    The bit that was not reported on above is that most of the discussion and questions resulting from his talk was about internet security (one of the areas contemplated for regulation). Especially his statement that SA sits 3rd behind China and Russia as the most hacked country.

    BTW, the other ‘top’ presentation was by Dominic on releasing the bottlenecks at the ‘Bottom’ rather than focussing on the ‘Top’. Excellent talk.

  • Vusumuzi Sibiya

    I am quite bewildered as to how two such entities as Vodacom and MTN would not have been able to foresee how the pursuit of regulating OTTs would pan out;

    …but I suppose that just serves to explain how both companies are incapable of foreseeing what would be beyond the curve and innovating accordingly to stay relevant –

    And now you’ve managed to drag in our meddling government that couldn’t take decisive action to meet an ICC deadline that would’ve lead to having such “unimportant matters as addressing the digital dividend” addressed, to ensure that SA does indeed Move Forward and keeps up with the rest of the world.

    In the same way that the SA public will be putting a smile on the face of Cell C’s Jose, there’s definitely going to be some very happy independent and opposition party campaigners in the upcoming local government elections.

  • Jannie van Zyl

    This is where you need to study the arrow of causality. This hearing was not convened in haste because the MNOs ‘called for it’.

    Similar events have been playing out in other countries for quite a while and there’s been a fair amount of activity from the relevant local bodies for quite a while, long before MTN made their statements and Vodacom got asked. I’ve seen the work that over 20 countries are doing on this. This was the cue. You really think things move that fast?

    The chair even put a statement out describing this but it does not make for a good conspiracy theory so is mostly ignored.

  • Vusumuzi Sibiya

    >>Similar events have been playing out in other countries for quite a while

    Would you be referring to the many other countries that hastily determined that they would meet the ICC deadline; and even before the set date, successfully completed BDM and are now dealing with the real important issues regarding spectrum…???

  • Greg Mahlknecht

    >Especially his statement that SA sits 3rd behind China and Russia as the most hacked country.

    This is pure FUD. Nothing to do with the subject at hand. The discussions around OTT, backdoors and legal intercepts have pretty much 100% agreement by security experts that regulation and government involvement would make the services less secure. Check out Tim Cook’s position on this, he’s the most outspoken right now, and is taking on the US government head-on with exactly these issues.

    The unregulated “OTT” messaging services are FAR more secure than the oldskool regulated counterparts (SMS, Voice).

    I don’t know how many times I have to say it – the “regulate OTT” argument is utterly devoid of any technical merit and is impossible to enforce. Why doesn’t someone who knows even a little about this subject matter go to the hearings and explain it with very short words and sentences, then everyone can go home and stop wasting their time.

    By the way, my company’s doing some interesting things with what we call “over over the top” services – using OTT services as a platform; we are in contact with your higher-ups at Vodacom about it, maybe they should catch you around the water cooler and have a chat, as it’s a really hard sell, all they see is “OTT” and the red mist descends 🙂

  • Jannie van Zyl

    Send me the details and I’ll see how I can help.If it’s ‘non-core’, it normally ends up with me to look at. You can probably guess my e-mail addy.

    As to Andile’s talk; his mentioning about the hacking solicited the most questions and discussions.

  • Vusumuzi Sibiya

    >>Why doesn’t someone who knows even a little about this subject matter go to the hearings and explain it with very short words and sentences,

    Because wearing colorful scarves to DAVOS and attending worthless circus meetings is not what’s going to move SA Forward; but dealing with the scourge of #IncompetentCluelessClowns that not only plague government but are also to be found heading “innovation” in the private sector – is what should be number #1 priority in SA;

    If SA can still be in the starting-blocks when the BDM race is over and the world has forgotten that there was an ICC deadline; then the matter of regulating OTT is also one which SA can comfortably sit in the starting-blocks waiting to see what the rest of the world determines is the best solution before setting aside a whole day to begin meddling with things they ought not to be getting involved with…

    …how about just seeing through the mess that is BDM and addressing the issue of spectrum first before entertaining the colluding #GreedyCravingCrybabies …???

    >>By the way, my company’s doing some interesting things with what we call “over over the top” services – using OTT services as a platform;

    Now that is exactly what Moves SA Forward; and with my putting game having gone to the dogs – a whole day spent on the golf course is far more productively spent than wasting it entertaining clowns.

  • DM

    Well said Mr. Ngcaba….give that man a Bells!

  • DM

    well said!

  • Richard Wickens

    Exactly, to “regulate” it they would pretty much have to shut down all mobile data, if they left port 80 open (web) everyone would just switch to port 80 for communications, it’s only by convention that this port is the browser port. Unless they start doing deep packet inspection there is no way to know what is a web page and what is a skype phone call. If they try force skype et al to pay some sort of fee they will just switch us off from their servers geographically, and then some local developers will build their own messaging applications with local servers (there are probably a few already) and the OTT saga will continue. It’s like video stores, music shops and book shops. They are dying out because technology has advanced to the point where they are no longer needed. I didn’t see them running to guvment to force people to still use their services (ok, maybe the music industry tried). To top it off, people will still be using them for data, just not their over priced messaging and voice services. At the end of the day, a voice call is just data, it all ends up as ones and zeroes, so explain to me why those charges are so much more expensive that whatsapp and skype voip etc. became the cheaper means of communication. Because they were ripping us off, thats why.

  • William Stucke

    > decisive action to meet an ICC deadline that would’ve lead to having such “unimportant matters as addressing the digital dividend” addressed

    I think that you mean an ITU deadline, Vusi.

    International Telecommunications Union, not International Cricket Council 😉

  • Vusumuzi Sibiya

    Too much test cricket and rooting for Rabada whilst also having to contend with such nonsense… much more exciting and positive things happening in cricket and better prospects for SA’s future than with communications –

    Eish! let me fix it Mr TC regulator 😉 …it might have given someone a scare though – International Criminal Court – and got them to take decisive action. BTW is the switch-on still happening next month or is OTT regulation now the TOP priority…???

    What’s happening with communications in SA is indeed criminal behavior.

  • Andrew Fraser

    “Especially his statement that SA sits 3rd behind China and Russia as the most hacked country.”

    I’m not sure what the context of this was, but I think it is plainly nonsense on the face of it. I’d be interested to see the source data for this kind of statement.

    It does smack of FUD, and something that resonates with the securocrats in the current government. Unfortunately the response of government in these situations is to try to reduce security rather than improve it (interception, banning of encryption etc.)

  • William Stucke

    > BTW is the switch-on still happening next month or is OTT regulation now the TOP priority…???

    Who knows? What I can tell you is that two different Parliamentary Portfolio Committees are responsible for the two different farces.

    > What’s happening with communications in SA is now amounting to criminal behavior and our government is also being complicit.

    Sorry to rain on your parade Vusi, but this has been happening at least since the licensing of Cell C fiasco in 2001/2001. And the same governing party has been appointing most of the incompetents / looters / whatever.