Players in Ghana’s telecommunications industry have expressed worry over the loss of revenue to internet voice applications such as Whatsapp, Viber and Skype.
These Over-The-Top (OTT) applications as they are termed refer to the delivery of video, audio and other media from a third party to a person’s device, without any charges apart from the data used.
The growth in demand for these OTT calls is driven chiefly by improvement in the availability and speed of broadband networks as well as the dominance of social media. A research carried out by a London-based research and analytics firm, Ovum, estimates that the global telecommunications industry risks losing $386 billion by 2018 from customers’ use of these internet voice applications.
The use of these applications is denying telcos revenue from international calls and roaming services. This phenomenon has left many telcos in Ghana worried about the long term economic effect on their revenue and that of government.
The CEO of MTN Ghana, Ebenezer Asante, said the impact of these over-the-top calls on the industry is worse than that of Sim boxing which is the illegal use of equipment to redirect international calls to make them appear as local ones.
Asante explained that making Whatsapp, Viber or Skype calls means users are “indirectly bypassing the traditional channels”, thus “denying the telcos and government revenue”.
He wants government to pay as much attention to this problem as it does Sim boxing. The CEO of Ghana’s leading telecommunication network said the regulators must check OTT calls “as they’ve done for all the traditional telco services”.
Mr. Asante posited that the industry should avoid getting to a stage where “40 percent of calls received and initiated are done via internet medium”.