Now Icasa to probe OTT market - TechCentral

Now Icasa to probe OTT market

Icasa CEO Pakamile Pongwana

Icasa CEO Pakamile Pongwana

Communications regulator Icasa said it plans to launch an inquiry in the next financial year to look at the impact of over-the-top (OTT) services such as WhatsApp and Skype on the data services market.

Icasa chief operating officer Willington Ngwepe said this when the parliamentary committee tasked with providing oversight over postal services and telecommunications held hearings on the regulation of OTT services on Tuesday.

Ngwepe’s announcement came after ICT expert Alison Gillwald cautioned against the regulation of OTT services, and rather urged parliament to allow innovation to thrive or face the risk of stifling the sector.

Ngwepe said the regulator would let the market evolve and continue to monitor the impact of OTT services and, if necessary at a later stage, an intervention could be made.

“Our plan is that the next financial year, we will be conducting an inquiry into priority markets… We intend to look into data services next and as part of that, we will consider the possible impact of OTTs on the market.

“OTT services result in increased use of bandwidth, increased use of data networks and data,” he said.

Icasa CEO Pakamile Pongwana said when innovation thrives, it is critical to allow it to grow instead of intervening without doing a full assessment of its impact.

“Allow innovation to happen … and deal with the bottlenecks. The bottleneck we are experiencing today is … our holding back spectrum. It is a bottleneck because networks could have grown further, OTTs could have grown further, people could have benefitted better.

“The fundamental principle is that regulation tends to be about control. We want to control something, that is why we have regulation, or we want to just remove the bottleneck.

“The question that will come all the time is ‘do you enable or do you regulate?’ Enabling sometimes is about facilitating those that can facilitate the faster growth of our economy and our country,” he said.

Tuesday’s parliamentary discussions come as the department of telecoms & postal services is finalising the national integrated ICT policy white paper.

Alf Wiltz, the department’s chief director of telecoms and ICT policy, said the panel making recommendations has considered inputs from all industry stakeholders on the matter.

“Those recommendations proposed that Icasa would do an assessment of whether regulation is required, looking at public interest and the principles of an open Internet.

“In addition, Icasa would consider frameworks in other countries similar to the discussions we are having today… Transparency of network management, if that occurs, should enable consumers to make informed decisions on services,” he said.  — SAnews


  1. Maybe ICASA should concentrate on regulating the mobile operators – that’s where the real plunder is happening.

  2. To grow the economy one must encourage innovation, which in turn will encourage competition, create skilled jobs, grow the economy, resulting in wide choices for consumers in terms of affordable pricing and QoS. With the onset of 4G and 5G mobile services the network will be end-to-end All-IP based. Multimedia services i.e. integrated Voice, Video, Audio, Data and graphic services and other conceivable services that the mind can configure, will be galore. The only limitation will be human imagination. All services will be via the Internet protocol. Mobile and copper network will be consigned to the Museum of Antiquities of the Smithsonian Institution next to the Bronze Axe. The forward march of the Digital Revolution, for a knowledge-based society, is inexorable.

  3. Vusumuzi Sibiya on

    All of what you are saying is going way over the head of such a clueless clown deployed to be CEO of a toothless regulatory body that would prioritize placing the interests of #GreedyCravingCrybabies before the interests of the country and the SA public.

  4. William Stucke on

    Oh Boy. Now you see the effects of ICASA having only 3 Councillors left.
    Just for the record, while they attend board meetings, neither the CEO nor the COO are members of the Board (or Council) of ICASA, nor do they have a vote. Their function is to keep the machinery operating. They do not have the power to hold an Inquiry, contrary to what is suggested in the first paragraph above.

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