Once again, Nigerian telcos are beating the tired drums of how services like WhatsApp calls (voice and video) and others are eating into their revenue. Apparently, those of us who buy data from your network to make voice and video calls on WhatsApp, Skype, BBM and others are costing the telcos a whopping NGN 20tn. To rectify this impact on their account books, the telcos want to block those services.
Let me be as clear about this as possible: this plan to block WhatsApp calls and others like it is bollocks. We pay for data to make those calls. Why not just get more subscribers to buy more data and make your killings off that?
Is Nigeria the first country in the world where people make WhatsApp and Skype calls? How have telcos in the US, UK, Italy, Japan, China, India and elsewhere turned the uptake of WhatsApp calls to their financial benefit? Who are the numbskulls behind this lazy approach?
The whole world is moving forward and Nigerian telcos want to moonwalk back into the stone age? Has the government infiltrated the ranks of the telcos? Because in Nigeria, it is only in government circles that a harebrained approach like this gets floated and implemented. You know, like several policies in the last one year that have taken us back to the 80s and early 00s.
If Nigerian Telcos Block WhatsApp Calls
Anyway, rants do nothing. Actions are everything. Here is what I advice Nigerians to do if telcos block Skype and WhatsApp calls.
- Stop buying data from any network that implements such a block.
- For your data needs, switch to data-only networks like Smile, Ntel or Spectranet for all your data needs. Because they are data-only, they want you to make all the WhatsApp and Skype calls that you can make. Data is their only income.
- To use those data-only networks, their SIM cards work in compatible phones. Or just buy a mifi and put their SIM in it for use.
It really is that simple. Subscribers will allow those networks that want to make more money from voice and data to do so. We shall see if they can afford to lose the crème de la crème of their data subscribers.
12 months ago, the Nigerian telecoms regulatory body had made a public statement that they had no plans to regulate WhatsApp calls and similar services. Whether the NCC is back-tracking or not, telcos blocking OTT services (Mobility 101: What is OTT) will be a very expensive mistake on the part of the networks. They want to start a war they cannot win.
PS: If the NCC backtracks and gets in bed with the telcos to require that the afore-mentioned data-only operators to also block OTT services, we will look for other ways and we will educate subscribers on how to use them. However this goes, the Nigerian subscribers will not give in to this madness. We, the subscribers, will win this one.
This is 2017. No-one should be locking down what internet subscribers can do or not do with the data they paid for. It is free data, after all. *drops mic*