Cofek, Airtel, Telkom join fight on mobile tariff slash


Safaricom Limited's headquarters on April 24, 2017. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

The Consumers Federation of Kenya, Airtel Kenya and Telkom Kenya have joined a case in which Safaricom has petitioned a tribunal to block the sector regulator's decision to cut mobile termination rates (MTR) to Sh0.12 per minute from the current Sh0.99 per minute.

MTR are the charges levied by a mobile service provider on other telecommunications service providers for terminating calls in its network.

Sources familiar with the matter said the trio has joined the legal fight throwing its weight behind the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) in the appeal filed by Safaricom before the Communications and Multimedia Appeals Tribunal.

Airtel and Telkom had earlier criticised Safaricom for seeking to scuttle the recently announced reduction in MTR, accusing the leading telco of only being interested in protecting its revenues from rivals.

The CA has said the cut will have a positive impact on both consumers and operators, adding the review will reduce the need for consumers to own multiple SIM cards as charges across networks come down.

Safaricom argues the move to cut the charges will negatively impact on its revenues and profitability and occasion it financial loss. But both Airtel and Telkom have backed the regulator's decision, saying it will ensure a level-playing field for all, while protecting the commercial interests of smaller operators.

Following Safaricom's application, the tribunal chaired by Rosemary Kuria has suspended CA's decision on the cuts that were expected to be implemented from the start of this year until the appeal is heard and determined.

The matter was heard before the tribunal Wednesday and will next be brought before the Tribunal on February 2.

A smaller operator tends to pay more in mobile termination rates because its users are likely to spend more time on other networks than its own.

Industry data shows that the rate has been falling gradually from a high of Sh4.42 in 2011 to the just reviewed Sh0.99, which has been in place since 2015, marking a freeze of more than five years amid intense lobbying by some top telcos.