Kenyan Telecos to face heavier penalties over poor Quality of Service (Q0S)
The Communication Authority of Kenya has upgraded the fines imposed on telecommunication companies from a flat rate of half a million shillings to hundreds of millions that will now depend on the annual turnover of the company affected. The new regulation will require Kenyan Telecos to part with 0.2 percent of its revenue as fines, and this means that a company like Safaricom, if fined, will have to pay the Authority up to shs 328 million in penalties. Orange and Airtel too will pay huge fines in millions as they also make annual undisclosed revenues in billions of shillings.
The new regulations communicated by the Director General of Communication Authority Francis Wangusi to the media will also require other services provided by the telecommunication companies hitherto not checked for quality to also be included in the QoS tests. The quality assessment will also apply to Internet Service Providers that include Liquids Telcom, Wananchi Group, Access Kenya, Jamii Telecoms and any other ISP. This is because other than voice services, the new services that will also be subjected to quality checks will include Internet and Mobile Money.
The system of imposing a percentage rate on turnover is “in line with global ICT standards and provides an all-inclusive framework that measures the quality of voice, data and SMS services,”said Mr. Wangusi. “We have made the penalties on the breach of QoS stiffer as a way of motivating the operators decide either to pay 0.2 per cent of their annual gross turnover to the authority or to plough back the money and improve their network quality,” he added and explained that the previous flat rate of shs 500,000 had not given the Kenyan telecos enough incentive to better their services.
Penalties on a certain percentage of annual turnover has been implemented in countries like Nigeria, South Africa and Rwanda. Back in 2011 Rwanda was forced to revoke the license of Rwandatel due to poor services whereas MTN was forced to better her services. In 2012, Nigeria had to collect a combined $7.1 million in penalties from all her telecos for failing to meet the minimum standards of QoS.
In last year’s QoS assessment in Kenya, none of the Kenyan telecos met the minimum standards of QoS. A year earlier, Safaricom was engaged in a back and forth fight with the then CCK (now CA) over the QoS assessment that gave her a 50 percent rating against a minimum required rating of 80 percent. According to Safaricom, CCK did not award her her deserved marks as was revealed by an independent firm that rated her at 87.5 percent. CCK dismissed the allegation citing involvement of Safaricom in the rating process that gave her the 50 percent rating.
The new regulations on QoS will also see an independent firm hired by CA from a competitive tendering process conduct the QoS assessment; away from the previous process where the Authority in liaison with the telecos conducted the QoS assessment themselves.
The new penalty regime first announced in February this year is highly welcomed as indeed the service provision by telecos in Kenya has been of poor quality. It is also thrilling to read that Internet as a service will also attract QoS checks given that in most parts of the country Internet access especially on Safaricom has been problematic. This can be attested by the several articles we have written on this website including Safaricom new Unlimted Internet Data bundle is a big Crap…, What is Really Wrong with Safaricom 3G Internet?, Frustrations with Safaricom’s Internet, Latest experience with Safaricom Internet – Pathetic and many others all of having described how Safaricom offers poor Internet services in many parts of Kenya.