Firm sues CA seeking to partner with telcos

By: PAUL OGEMBA

A telecommunications firm owned by Kenyans living in the diaspora has sued the Communications Authority of Kenya for denying it a chance to partner with local telcos.

Geonet Communications Ltd’s suit brings a fresh dispute into the lucrative mobile money transfer and international voice calls, by sucking in local operators.

“The authority’s decision to deny the company a chance to operate in the local market was unfair and infringed on its rights to do business in a free and fairly regulated industry devoid of anti-competitive and restrictive trade practices,” said lawyer Kithinji Marete.

According to the company, the Kenyans applied for an International Electronic Communications Gateway Services (IGSS) licence and upon payment of a Sh34.8 million fee, the CA issued it with the permit, which allowed them to partner with local mobile network operators.

LEGAL PARTNERSHIPS

Under the Communication Authority Act, the IGSS licence allows a foreign network provider to partner with local firms to inter-connect their subscribers and facilitate cheaper voice calls and direct money transfer to mobile phones from abroad.

Mr Marete said upon being issued with the licence, Geonet Communications Ltd approached Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom Kenya for partnership.

“The three mobile network operators, however, refused to enter into any interconnection agreement with Geonet Ltd to interconnect their telecommunications as provided under the IGSS licence, forcing us to file a complaint with the communications authority,” said Mr Marete.

He said that on September 21, the CA dismissed their complaint on grounds that the company was not operating an IGSS facility despite having the licence.

The company wants an order compelling the CA to facilitate a partnership between Geonet and the three mobile network providers. The case is scheduled for hearing on January 26, 2016.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION