WhatsApp may face licensing an

WhatsApp may face licensing and regulation in South Africa

South Africans may have to cough up a little more to make use of WhatsApp if it is regulated in the country.

WhatsApp may face licensing an

Parliament hearings later this month will confirm whether over-the-top (OTT) internet services, such as WhatsApp, will be regulated in South Africa.

OTT internet services allow users to send messages and make calls over data networks, often for a lower cost than sending an SMS or making a telephone call.

Last year South Africa’s two biggest mobile networks, MTN and Vodacom, called for a regulation of OTT services in South Africa. OTT services include Skype, Viber and Google Hangouts as well as WhatsApp.

A recent report by World Wide Worx and Fuseware shows that WhatsApp has over 10 million users in South Africa.

Hearings into the possible regulation of OTT services in South Africa have been scheduled for 26 January.

According to Fin24, the hearings are set to discuss “necessary policy interventions on how to govern OTTs, regulatory interventions on the guidelines to regulate OTTs” and the “impact of OTTs on competition”.

The hearings will further discuss whether “there (is) a need for the OTTs to be defined as telecom services (voice or data) or telecom infrastructure, and thus whether they should be subject to licensing and regulatory obligations (such as legal intercept and emergency call access) or not?”

The hearings will be open to the public and more information, such as who will be presenting at the hearings, will be made available later this month.