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Safaricom steps up internet price war with rival Airtel

Telecommunications company Safaricom has revised its Internet bundle prices for the third time this year, stepping up an ongoing fight for data revenue with rivals Airtel and Telkom Kenya.

Safaricom, the market leader, on Friday revised the cost of its Internet packages, and also scrapped some usage limitations that had sparked a public backlash.

The change was the latest reply to marketing salvos being fired between the telco, Telkom Kenya and Airtel which in February announced a data bundle offer dubbed UnlimiNET.

“In February we launched data bundles that were designed to give customers an enhanced experience with their Internet and enjoy more while browsing,” said the Safaricom director for consumer business Sylvia Mulinge.

The package introduced on February 27 irked subscribers who protested a 30-day usage limit on their data plans that could not be extended.

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The February tariff plan also included bonus credit that was only usable at night, and which also had expiry dates.

The February tariff announcement came just eight days after Airtel had launched a data price package of its own, promising customers free internet connectivity on some social media applications such as Facebook and Whatsapp.

Safaricom also attracted criticism over its intended scrapping of a popular post-paid tariff, and Airtel’s UnlimiNET tariff (which bears a few similarities to the Safaricom post-paid plan) appeared to be the rival’s attempt to lure away its customers.

The new tariff offered Airtel subscribers text messages, call time and data for use across all networks, with customers receiving increasing units of each as their spend (or duration) increased.

Protests by Safaricom’s customers – including threats of legal action – forced the company to revise its data plan just over a week after its launch, extending the expiry period to 90 days for some plans.

Friday Safaricom scrapped the night shift plan and introduced a flexibility to its Internet bundle expiration dates by allowing subscribers to renew their credit if they have not exhausted their units by deadline day.

Safaricom’s new daily tariff plan allows customers to buy seven megabytes of data for five shillings to a maximum of 15MB for Sh50.

Previously the company’s lowest plan was 5MB for Sh5 with the maximum bundle being 100MB for Sh40. The weekly bundles are retailing at between Sh5 for 5MB (up from 4MB for Sh5) and 130MB at Sh100.

Monthly data plans have similarly been revised from the prevailing minimum of 100MB for Sh100 to 50 gigabytes for Sh6,750 to the new rate of 350MB for Sh250 to 12GB at Sh3,000.

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