Free WhatsApp and more to come from Cell C SA

South African operator CEO says “We can’t be like children in a playpen”

Cell C zero rate WhatsApp in new found detente

WhatsApp zero-rated from Cell C

Cell C CEO Jose dos Santos says that operators should accept the fact that OTT is here to stay and they should figure out how to play nicely together.  Dantos suggests that it may be time for the big operators to back off from being the school yard bullies and to join in the new era of cooperation

  • Boardrooms across the world – and make no mistake SA is no exception – are talking about how they will “deal” with services like WhatsApp and Skype. And many of them, most recently our own competitors, are trying to take pot shots at these players drawing rings around what is and isn’t acceptable for players like WhatsApp to offer its customers.
  • While none of these players are charging their customers for OTT services yet, it seems likely that at some point they will, given the statements they have recently made in the media using phrases like “its not fair” and “free riders” to describe the over-the-top players.
  • It’s almost reminiscent of the Mobile Termination Rate saga, where the larger players get to protect their revenues and smaller players have had to struggle to compete and bring the cost to communicate down.
  • The real difference between Termination Rates and OTT services is that the OTT players will continue to do what they do, with or without the “consent” of mobile operators. This is something that Cell C understands, and rather than shutting the doors with a R25/MB ultimatum, we are trying to find ways to work with OTT players and make the market a fair play environment for them to compete in.

Santos’s Cell C recently announced a promotion on free data for WhatsApp.  The CEO’s tone indicates that free WhatsApp may just be the start of their new found detente with OTT players.  .  Whether this is an opportunistic swipe at competitors, good marketing copy or a true call from the heart, time will tell.

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