Over the years, telecommunication companies in Kenya have shifted product and service focus to mobile money and data services. With better internet penetration and wide use, data services are almost the deal breaker for subscribers on different networks today. The increase in mobile devices has also contributed to the switch of services with a large population today using internet on the run.
Almost two years back, Safaricom invested ksh 400 million to subsidize cost of smartphones and tablets in a quest to boost revenue from internet services. The move saw a rise in smartphone ownership and internet accessibility raising its share of mobile internet. Around the same time, the company introduced ‘sambaza internet’ a service where subscribers would share data bundles up to 50 times on the network.
The increased demand for cheaper internet led to the introduction of Bundles mwitu which has lately resulted to heated debate as well as accusations by Consumer Federation of Kenya (COFEK) blaming the telco of trying to control their products after sale which is against Consumer protection laws. The slash in the amount of MBs one can transfer from 999Mbs to 20Mbs as well as number of times a subscriber is allowed to transfer in a day is one of the strategies Safaricom outlined in a quest to protect individuals from unscrupulous sellers. The new data charges and conditions have also rubbed off the public the wrong way with unreasonable data bundle validity and separation of both day and night bundles.
Among stringent rules was deletion of data bundles after expiry, not being in a position to renew validity by purchasing bundles afresh, transferring only 10Mbs two times a day and other conditions that did not sit well with a majority of internet users on the network.
After an online protest on Change.org started by Philip Musyoki a Safaricom subscriber and social media uproar by Kenyans, the company has since increased validity on some of its internet bundles to 90 days opposed to 30 days of validity earlier termed as the longest duration. The measure will however depend on the usage behavior of the subscriber.
Safaricom hopes to resolve the outrage with the slight changes as well as curtail resell of data bundles. The result of the already set regulations is currently not determinable in terms of revenue changes since the move is a dent to customer relations.