The Open Source Foundation for Nigeria (OSFON) has counseled the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in the country to look elsewhere in effort to balance their books, instead of toying with the idea of how to block Nigerian telecom consumers from usage of Over-The Top (OTT) platforms.
OTT is one of the value added services (VAS) accessible over a given network service provider. OTT includes audio, video, and other media content delivered over the Internet without the involvement of a multiple-system operator (MSO) in the control or distribution of the content, which include WhatsApp, Skype and other Instant Messaging services as well as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). OTT refers to content from a third party that is delivered to an end-user, with the Internet Service Provider (ISP) basically transporting Internet Protocol (IP) packets.
Reacting to this development, OSFON through its National President, Mr. Dele Ajisomo, called for caution, noting that the news reports that MNOs are lobbying the government through the regulator the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in efforts to block the usage of OTT platforms among Nigerians, negates the values embedded in openness of technologies which paves the way for network neutrality.
According to him, the principle of network neutrality is that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favouring or blocking particular products or websites.
OSFON emphasized that OTT cannot work comfortably without data, which are sold by the Internet Service Providers (ISPs), urging MNOs to be innovative and not limit their service offerings to data alone.
The group noted that the issue involves open and free Internet, freedom of the Internet, freedom of speech and information, in addition to access to free and open source technologies and/or software among others.
The MNOs, OSFON said, should look for other ways to balance their books and not by restricting Nigerians and their freedom to open, affordable and innovative technologies. OSFON pointed out that access to the Internet is a human right and Nigerians will fight to keep this access, insisting that “It is actually inhumane for the MNOs to suggest blocking subscribers from any free and open technical and innovative products on the Internet.”
For the regulators and Nigeria Government, OSFON said, it is an unthinkable idea, because for some Nigerians “it’s the only means of communication with their loved ones.”
“OTT is the only way to communicate to their old age parents in the village. Nigerians in the diaspora also depend on Skype and WhatsApp to talk or see their families in Nigeria,” OSFON president said.