MTN boss derides OTT ‘free riders’
MTN South Africa CEO Ahmad Farroukh has come out all guns blazing taking on the so-called OTT “free riders”. Mr. Farroukh said that mobile operators and OTT players — they include companies such as Google, Facebook and WhatsApp — have to reach a “certain understanding”.
Mr. Farroukh thought it humorous that rival operator Cell C had just announced that WhatsApp would be zero-rated for all existing and new customers (promotional only). Mr. Farroukh pointed out that WhatsApp (now owned by Facebook) has announced that it is planning to add voice calling in the near future. Cell C CEO Jose Dos Santos said the move was driven in part by a need by mobile operators to embrace rather than fight OTT players.
Mr. Farroukh claimed that he recently attended a summit in Dubai where OTT players and operator came close to fisticuffs. He says that although it is operators who are often accused of being greedy, quite the opposite was true. While he has no intention of blocking OTT content, he claims the OTT players should play fair.
- Farroukh says a balance is needed, describing the way OTT players use mobile operators’ networks today as “unfair”
- This issue can’t be resolved by any one operator and has to be dealt with through global forums such as the GSMA, an industry body that represents the world’s mobile operators. It will take years, Farroukh predicts.
- Farroukh, who is a former CEO of MTN in Nigeria, took the reins at MTN South Africa last month. “There was a need for us to have a fresh look at the South African market… This industry and this market are going through a complete transformation. If we are not able to catch this transformation at the right time, we will be left behind.”