CA to fine phone firms millions for poor service in new rules

By: LILIAN OCHIENG

Telecom operators will part with 0.2 per cent of their gross turnover for offering poor service in stringent regulations meant to give customers value for their money.

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) is recruiting four consultants to verify the extent of countrywide service provision by telecom services providers. The regulations will apply by January.

“We have improved sector laws. Apart from rating the quality of service in voice, SMS and data will also be rated,” said CA director-general Francis Wangusi.

“The quality of service reports will be issued out on a quarterly basis to telecom firms, penalties will, however, be applied only once a year.”

INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS

The International Telecoms Union (ITU), together with the East African Communications Organisation (EACO), is now piling pressure on Kenya to ensure adherence to international standards.

“Regulators must ensure consumers have timely and quality service as we move to review quality of service legislation adopted early this year,” said Mr Hodge Semakula, executive secretary EACO during a forum to discuss guidelines on regional quality of service on Tuesday.

As CA moves forward with the regulation, Safaricom, which recorded a Sh163.4 billion turnover in the year to March, could part with Sh326.8 million if it breaches the quality standards.

Though Airtel and Telkom Kenya do not publicly disclose their financial reports, they are believed to make billions of shillings and could equally be penalised in millions.

LENIENT PENALTY

Operators were this year fined Sh500,000 for poor service.

Mr Wangusi, however, noted that the penalty is too lenient and has prompted continuous delivery of below par products.

The 2013/2014 quality of service report by CA states that Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom Kenya achieved an overall rating of 62.5 per cent, below the set target.

In line with the legislation to ensure quality standards, CA has bought new equipment to help monitor service delivery.

Previous quality standards have concentrated on voice. SMS and data will be rated in the new audits as mobile money transfer is also integrated.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION