Airtel is calling on Internet Giants such as Google and Facebook to share revenue with Internet service providers

AirtelAirtel wants piece of Google, Facebook revenues, Network operators globally say that Google’s search engine and YouTube video service generate huge amounts of traffic but do not compensate them for using their networks. Reports Business

Airtel has revived the debate calling for big Internet companies such as Google and Facebook to share revenue with Internet service providers.

The call by Airtel rekindles the debate sparked by Telkom’s Kenya former CEO Mickael Ghossein two years ago when he reckoned that Google should help to pay for the billions of shillings invested in networks for services that consume huge bandwidth like videos.

Network operators globally say that Google’s search engine and YouTube video service generate huge amounts of traffic but do not compensate them for using their networks.

Christian de Faria, Airtel Africa CEO said over-the-top (OTT) content providers such as Google and Facebook must be regulated as they utilise and profit from the infrastructure put in place by mobile network companies.

“Just like all the players in this industry, we seek to increase our footprint by offering our customers a wider range of products and services.

However, we need a level playing field for all operators, as this will not only allow for equitable competition between OTT operators and telecommunications companies, but will also ensure the investments required to deploy these technologies are viable,” said Mr de Faria.

He said regulators should consider regulations for OTT players that cover licensing, spectrum, security and revenues.

Should OTT services such as Voice over Internet Protocol continue to grow, mobile network operators will be forced to their subscribers a premium fee to access the services.

“We are happy with the data revolution that is taking place, but new players are riding on our infrastructure and investment, and yet they are not subject to the same taxes and regulation regimes as operators. We expect regulators to help,” he said.

The Airtel Africa CEO spoke during the 2015 International Telecommunication Union Global Symposium for Regulators in Libreville, Gabon, where he challenged regulators to take action and have structures that create an equal playing field for all providers.

Google sub-Saharan Africa ambassador Joseph Mucheru has previously rejected claims that Google was getting a free ride on the operators’ networks, arguing that the telcos and the search giant should focus on partnerships that will lift their earnings.

He added that the mobile operators hugely depend on content providers such as Google and Facebook to drive their Internet usage, and that the search engine operators have not asked for a share of that Internet revenue.

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