Communication Foreign News

Telecom operators seek regulation of OTT services

Written by Maritime First

… As Indonesian volcano erupts, sparking evacuations***

Gbenga Adebayo, Chairman, Association of Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON)Telecommunications operators in Nigeria recently called for licensing and regulation of over-the-top services such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp Messenger to generate more money for the country.

Mr Gbenga Adebayo, Chairman, Association of Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), told newsmen in Lagos that telecom regulators should no longer be neutral to technology regulation.

According to the ALTON chairman, it is technology that is now driving telecom market and not services.“We are beginning to see the need for regulators to look at regulating technology instead of services.

“For example, the likes of YouTube, Facebook,Twitter, WhatsApp, Blackberry Messenger and many others are called over-the-top services that are not part of the core services for which operators are licensed.

“These over-the-top services have social, economic and security implications.“If they are not licensed, it means they are not regulated, and in that case, there is no limit to the scope of what they can do.“There is also no control over services and content they may provide,” he said.

According to Adebayo, nowadays people send messages mostly on WhatsApp and some other social media platforms than they do on the conventional SMS services.He noted that telecom operators were only licensed to supply voice, data and text messages for which they were charged on annual basis.“Over-the-top services don’t have those types of attraction, which I believe is a loss of revenue for both regulators and the country,’’ Adebayo said.

In the meantime, Indonesian villagers living in the shadow of one of the world’s most active volcanoes fled to safety Friday as Mount Merapi erupted, sending a cascade of ash and smoke some 5,000 metres (16,400 feet) into the sky.

The government ordered residents living within a five-kilometre (three-mile) radius of the crater on Java island to leave as ash covered surrounding communities and even reached parts of Yogyakarta, Indonesia’s cultural capital some 30 kilometres away.

Officials have shuttered the city’s international airport with two dozen flights cancelled following the eruption, which began around 7:30 am (1230 GMT).

It was not clear how many residents living around Merapi had left for local shelters, but around 12,000 people live in its immediate vicinity.

“Everybody ran here immediately,” resident Familia Ekawati said from a shelter, adding that there was little warning of the blast before it happened.

“There was no sign it would be erupting.”

Some 120 people who were hiking on the mountain when the eruption happened are safe, the government said.

Merapi previously erupted in 2010, killing more than 300 people and forcing 280,000 to flee, in what is considered its most powerful eruption since 1930.

Despite Friday’s evacuations, officials played down the danger, saying it was a phreatic eruption, which happens when magma heats up ground water, building up pressure inside the crater.

“This kind of eruption is not dangerous and could happen anytime to an active volcano,” national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a statement.

“There have not been any more eruptions (since this morning).”

The volcano’s alert status has not been raised.

The Southeast Asian archipelago nation of more than 17,000 islands and islets — and nearly 130 active volcanoes — is situated on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, a vast zone of geological instability where the collision of tectonic plates causes frequent quakes and major volcanic activity.

The Guardian

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Maritime First