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Airtel Africa CEO demands regulatory restrictions for OTT providers

The CEO of Airtel Africa has called for greater regulation of OTT providers that provide for-profit services over mobile operators’ infrastructure.

Speaking at the 2015 ITU Global Symposium for regulators in Gabon, Airtel Africa chief Christian de Faria called for regulators to create fairer frameworks that treated all providers equally. His comments were at times harshly worded, including the claim that OTT players cannibalise mobile revenue by “riding on operator infrastructure and investment”.

The CEO added that OTT players “are not subject to the same taxes and regulation regimes as operators. We expect the regulators to help.”

He then expressed the view that spectrum, licensing, revenues and security should all be under consideration regarding potential future OTT regulation. He did however make the point that telecom operators should adapt to the presence of OTT players in the market, adding that they helped operators to reach more subscribers.

“We don’t want to block them, but regulators need to ensure a level playing field for all,” he said. “Ultimately, mobile network operators are seeking a win-win solution in which customers can benefit socio-economically from mobile connectivity.”

In response, regulators noted that a unified global approach would be required to establish tariffs, noting that “no single country or regulatory entity can solve the issue on its own”.

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