Safaricom hit hardest as telcos pay Sh312m penalty for poor calls

Mr Francis Wangusi, Communications Authority of Kenya director-general. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Mr Francis Wangusi, Communications Authority of Kenya director-general. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Telecom operators have been collectively fined Sh311.6 million for poor service with market leader Safaricom #ticker:SCOM taking the heaviest hit.

Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom Kenya all failed to meet the quality of service standards for the financial year 2015/16.

According to Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) data, Safaricom, which was fined Sh270 million, is the only company that has paid up its fines. Airtel and Telkom Kenya were each fined Sh26.6 million and Sh14.9 million respectively.

“Safaricom has already paid. The other two licensees are yet to pay due to issues they have raised, which are being addressed,” said the CA in a statement.

The regulator did not elaborate on the nature of the outstanding “issues”.

Telkom Kenya chief executive Mr Aldo Mareuse declined to tell Business Daily when and/or if the company would pay up the fines.

He however said that his company had concerns over the transparency and the criteria used by the CA in testing compliance with quality standards. Airtel Kenya did not respond to queries on the issue.

The fines levied are equivalent to 0.15 per cent of the gross turnover of the companies. The telcos paid a total fine of Sh190 million for the 2014/15 financial year, equivalent to 0.1 per cent of their turnover.

Telecom operators have often complained about the methodology used by the CA to measure quality of service, with Safaricom even commissioning its own internal quality assessments.

The CA is reviewing how it measures quality of service. The regulator has proposed a new framework that will expand the survey beyond voice services to also check SMS and data.

The authority had in April advertised for a firm to administer the new standards. It now says that it expects to award the tender this month.  Four firms expressed interest in the contract. These are Broadband Communications acting as a local agent of Germany’s Rhodes & Schwartz; Sigos GmbH also of Germany; Lillybelle and Infovista TEMs both from France.

The regulator tests quality of voice services on eight different parameters, including speech quality, completed calls, call success rate and drop rate.