Communications Authority of Kenya Pockets KES 311.6 Million in Penalties from Operators for Poor Service

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In a period spanning over a year since Kenya’s ICT watchdog Communications Authority (CA) consulted the public about its new laws that were clearly geared toward taming telecommunication operators from poor service delivery, the authority has collected a substantial amount of fines after the laws were approved.

The rules, which affect data, SMS and calls are based on quality of service field assessment of operators, and non-compliance is met with fines. During the 2014/15 financial year, CA pocketed more than KES 190 million in fines, where Safaricom coughed the lion’s share of those penalties at KES 157 million. Telkom Kenya and Airtel paid KES 33 million in total.

In this FY’s installment, the same trend holds as Safaricom has been slapped with another huge fine to the tune of KES 270 million. Airtel Kenya has also been fined KES 26.6 million, while Telkom Kenya’s non-compliance cost is KES 14.9 million. These fines go in line with the market share of each operator where Safaricom dwarfs its competitors by significant margins, which means that it is more susceptible to poor service by virtue of its numbers.

To recap on voice, CA needs operators to cut the number of unsuccessful call ratio to below 5 per cent and that of call drops to less than 2 per cent. Also, the regulator requires telcos to keep call set up time to below 8 seconds and the ratio of completed calls to over 95 per cent.

For SMS, CA regulations calls for a bump in successful SMS ratio and the completion ratio at 95 per cent. Delivery has to fall below 30 seconds, but that for MMS is extended to 3 minutes.

Finally, data latency must be reduced to under 100 milliseconds, while jitter, which is the measure if the difference in the end-to-end latency between packets should fall below 50 milliseconds.

Telcos have since forwarded their complaints to the CA on these requirements and want them revised, which means that these numbers are on a higher side.

Only Safaricom has paid what it owes.

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