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Safaricom raises validity for Internet bundles after outcry

Mobile data is the fastest growing segment of Safaricom. It earned the company Sh6.5 billion during its recent half-year results. PHOTO | FILE
Mobile data is the fastest growing segment of Safaricom. It earned the company Sh6.5 billion during its recent half-year results. PHOTO | FILE 

Safaricom has increased the period it takes for some of its internet data bundles to expire to 90 days, responding to a public outcry that followed its decision to change policies on usage and distribution of data credits on its network a week ago.

The Safaricom director for corporate affairs Nzioka Waita said in an interview the review was effected to address complaints from customers who wanted longer expiry period for their data bundles.

This means that, depending on choice its data customers will now have the three months' expiry period for the different data tariff plans.

“The longer 90-day validity period is a response to our customers’ need for a longer validity bundle beyond 30 days based on their usage behavior,” said Mr Waita. Three-month bundles are available as 500 MB, 1.5 GB, 3 GB and 8 GB, with 50 per cent off peak bonuses.

Safaricom had in the earlier announcement cut back the validity period of its data bundles, setting an expiry date with each one bought. It also capped its data transfer service Sambaza Bundles at 20Mb from a previous limit of 999MB, causing a public outcry.

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The telecommunications service provider announced the measures in addition to a review of its data bundle prices aimed at curtailing unauthorised reselling of its data.

“The change of rules on Sambaza is designed to protect our customers who may have been victims of fraud from some of the unauthorised data resellers,” he added.

The latest data by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) for three months to September 2014 indicates that mobile data users hit 14.7 million as at September.

Safaricom has 10.5 million users, Airtel has 1.9 million mobile data users while Telkom’s Kenya Orange has 1.9 million subscribers.

Safaricom defended its decision to offer off-peak bonus from 10.00 pm to 6.00am saying that is in line with its customers’ usage especially the youth and students.

“This is in line with our customers’ user habits particularly the youth and students, this ensures that we offer our customers more value than they can get from any other,” he added.

Safaricom is the only telecommunications firm that has rolled out the 4G network in some parts of the country, as it seeks to deepen its market share in data.

In addition to voice and other 3G mobile services, a 4G system provides broadband Internet access to smartphones, laptops with wireless modems and other handheld devices.

Potential applications include faster mobile web access, IP telephony, gaming services, high-definition mobile TV, video streaming and conferencing, 3D television and cloud computing.

Safaricom’s half-year results covering the six months to September 31 indicate that voice contributed 55 per cent of the telecom firm’s Sh79.3 billion revenue while non-voice accounted for 40 per cent.

Mobile data, which is the fastest growing segment of Safaricom’s business, rose 52.9 per cent to Sh6.5 billion during the period or nearly two thirds the Sh9.3 billion total revenue that the company earned from data in the year ended March 2014.

Voice revenue grew by a modest 6.4 per cent to Sh47 billion.

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