Telcos face hefty fines in worsening quality of voice

Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) Director General Francis Wangusi addressing the media on February 17, 2017. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) Director General Francis Wangusi addressing the media on February 17, 2017. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The quality of voice services offered by mobile operators Safaricom #ticker:SCOM , Airtel and Telkom Kenya worsened last year, setting up the operators for a hefty fine.

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) says the three mobile phone firms failed to meet the quality standards for the year to June.

“The overall performance of the three network operators was 50 per cent, which was lower as compared to 62.5 per cent recorded in FY 2014/15,” reads the report in part.

The regulator requires the operators to achieve a score of 80 per cent on eight indicators, including speech quality, completed calls, call success rate and drop rate.

The CA levies a fine equal to 0.1 per cent the gross annual revenue of a telecom firm for failing to meet these standards. 

The industry was in the previous year fined Sh190 million for poor quality services with Safaricom, the largest operator in the industry, bearing the heaviest burden.

The data shows that Telkom Kenya, Safaricom and Airtel were all non-compliant on the same indicators. 

The number of calls that resulted in a connection to the dialled number and the number of calls that were successfully completed was lower than the CA limit of 95 per cent.

Dropped calls, the number of calls cut off before subscribers could finish talking, rose. Safaricom compensates users for dropped calls.

The poor quality performance will triggered debate on the effectiveness of hefty fines in pushing the voice operators to comply.

The previously the firms were fined a flat rate of Sh500, 000 which the communication regulator deemed too lenient and failed to give operators the incentive to comply with established quality of service (QoS) standards.

But this was raised to a share of the firm’s revenues in what has pushed the voice operators to up their game.

Kenya followed in the footsteps of Nigeria and Rwanda, which introduced hefty fines against Telco that did not meet quality checks.

Nigeria in 2012 fined four telcos a combined $7.4 million (Sh762 million) for failing to meet minimum service standards.

The regulator has previously conducted the survey independently on an annual basis, but the quality tests will be done by a private firm quarterly under the new regime.