Why the MTN – Rocket Internet Deal Worries Me.

When I read about the Rocket – MTN tie up, I thought “WOW!” for a second. Then was a little puzzled as to how a deal between the telco giant and an eCommerce juggernaut made any sense. I slept woke up and my eyes opened literally and figuratively.

I sent out a tweet to which Eghosa responded quite accurately

 

My main worry stems from Net Neutrality or  more accurate the possibly death of it and the implications

Net neutrality (also network neutrality or Internet neutrality) is the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, and modes of communication – via Wikipedia

Last year, Pando covered a company, ItsOn that makes it easy for web/mobile companies to pay for the cost of interacting with their application. I did not think it was a good thing then

Under this deal, Rocket Internet is financially aligned with two telecom firms MTN and Millicom (which also owns part of Rocket Internet and which is in turn funded by Kinnevik) that have access to over 200 million subscribers.

So how does his affect competition and consumer choice?

What if for MTN/Millicom subscribers to browse/shop on Jumia does not cost you any bandwidth/money and opening the Konga.com homepage wipes out 50MB? Where do you think people will go shopping? What about Movies/Media?

This no longer becomes a level playing ground.  With this deal, “level don change”.

Of course, I will have to fearfully salute the Rocket guys and their obviously forward thinking backers for blowing up the ecosystem upping the stakes so drastically in less than 3 years on this continent. Can you blame them if they are within the law?

I don’t

The way forward?

Those that are policy experts are better versed on how to allow the ’free market’ operate within the context of avoiding monopolies that harm the consumer.

Interestingly, net neutrality is at an important turn in the US and the result will change EVERYTHING

I’m worried.

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