If you’ve been following the news on WhatsApp recently, you’ll know that a couple of local mobile networks want the government to regulate the service.
Petitions from MTN and Vodacom have resulted in the Portfolio Committee on Telecommunications and Postal Services planning a discussion over whether OTT (Over-The-Top) services such as WhatsApp, Skype and Viber should be subject to the same regulations as telecommunication service providers.
One of the outriders in this regard is Cell C, who has gone on record stating that its competitors’ activities are aimed at “maintaining their stranglehold” on South Africa’s social and economic future.
Now Cell C seems have put its money where its mouth is; starting today, Cell C prepaid customers on the MegaBonus plan and contract customers can make WhatsApp calls for free over the network without incurring data costs until the end of the month. Okay, so there are only nine days left in January, but just over a week’s worth of calls for free is better than a kick in the teeth, right?
“For two years, Cell C has embraced services like WhatsApp and Facebook by offering customers innovative and very affordable products and services,” said Cell C CEO Jose Dos Santos. “This is just one of the ways we at Cell C can express our protest at the calls by our competitors to regulate OTT services.”
“These services offer some of the most affordable communications in the market today and regulating them will only increase the cost to the consumer. This at a time when the industry is being called on to lower the cost to communicate,” he added.
Is this genuine largesse or a way to stick it to competitors or both? Who cares? Far be it from us to complain when a mobile operator hands something away for free.