MNOs have a different view on OTT services


Despite mounting pressure on revenues from value added services, platforms and applications, mobile network operators across Africa do not see Over the Top (OTT) services as a threat to their survival, but as "essential partners".

Cheaper communication alternatives and platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber and voice over internet protocol (VoIP) have seen revenue from the voice segment climbing down as consumers seek value for money.

Maria Pienaar, an executive from South Africa's Cell C, said at a mobile money conference organised by Mondato in Johannesburg this week that telcos do not necessarily see OTT "as being a threat" but rather as 'essential partners'.

"We do not see the OTTs as being out to eat our lunch, but rather as our distribution partners," she said.

However, Equity Bank's John Staley said OTT services were not yet fully embraced and utilised in Africa owing to limited data accessibility and slower speeds.

Other delegates said this also impacted on uptake of other mobile based platforms that ride on data such as digital finance.

Staley said "the cost-imposed limitations of 4G/LTE in Africa could restrict OTT services" uptake and utilisation.