CA ordered to intervene in Safaricom, Geonet dispute

Communications Authority of Kenya

The Communications Authority of Kenya headquarters in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has been given 60 days to respond to concerns that Safaricom and Telkom Kenya have denied interconnection services to a local firm that offers low-priced call roaming services.

The High Court was responding to a petition in which Geonet, a telecoms firm that offers technological services that avoid high roaming charges, had accused CA of promoting anticompetitive behaviour by failing to intervene in its dispute with the two telcos.

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Geonet had moved to court on July 15 last year accusing CA of remaining silent despite writing to it on diverse dates to complain about Safaricom locking it out of interconnection services and Telkom Kenya double billing it for this service.

The firm’s roaming services are dependent upon it being interconnected with local mobile operators such as Safaricom and Telkom.

“I hereby order that within 60 days of this judgment, the CA respond to the concerns raised by Geonet in this petition and further make an impartial decision that will promote fair competition,” the court said in the orders issued on April 5, 2023.

Geonet had on June 27, 2020, written to CA asking it to compel Safaricom to reinstate interconnection with it on “reasonable terms” to continue with the roaming service.

The firm had also written to CA in August 2021, asking it to intervene in a matter in which it was accusing Telkom of double billing it following the interconnection agreement that started in October 2020.

However, Geonet stated in court papers that CA had failed to address the two issues, causing it a financial loss, damage and extreme inconvenience and legal injury.

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The court, while compelling CA to respond within two months, said the regulator had “barely lifted a finger” in response to Geonet’s concerns yet the law empowers it to take steps to rectify missteps taken by parties in the telecoms industry.

“CA’s role is that of a referee and where disputes arise, it must take steps to resolve the same in accordance with the law,” said the court.

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