Kenya’s competition regulator now charged with determining mobile voice rates

Kenya’s communications authority the Communication commission of Kenya (CCK) has directed the Competition Authority(CA), country’s consumer protection and fair competition regulator, to make a ruling on the mobile termination rate after it failed to reach an agreement with the country’s four mobile service providers.

CA will be responsible for coming up with a flat rate that mobile service providers would charge. According to CCK, the charges may differ depending on calls to different network and those from the same provider although the difference should be minimal.

Kenya’s ministry of information and communication permanent secretary Bitange Ndemo said the Authority was formed to control the industry by regulating the price rate. It is supposed to determine the rate by looking at both the supply and demand forces potential for abuse by some firms as they would prevent new entrants in the market or change price haphazardly.

At the moment, the Mobile termination rate is at KSh2.21 (US$ 0.03). It was expected to be reduced to KSh1.44 (US$ 0.02) by early January 2011. Safaricom and Telkom Kenya have however opposed the move arguing it would leadt further slump of the revenue collection.

Essar Yu and Airtel are on the other hand of the mindset that the rate be reduced further to maintain their ‘lowest call rates,’ a strategy that targets to roll out to mass market.

Earlier on, the telecommunication service providers and the ministry of information and communications met and agreed on KSh 1.60 (US$ 0.02) rate, which had some parties disagree with the terms imposed in the meeting.

Bitange noted that the negotiation has gone much higher and all the involved parties are working in conjunction with the CA to come up with a mutual mobile voice-calling rate.

He further directed the mobile Internet operators to have an IP address for easy tracking of the anonymous, hate and negative messages targeted at spearheading hostility during election duration.

He concluded by saying all handset must have an IP to address the increasing cases of Internet fraud.

Regulatory June 2012 report indicates that almost 18 million mobile Internet subscribers exist in the country.

Ndemo gave up to December to have all the necessary details met.

In 2010, Airtel Kenya reduced its calling rate to almost half, forcing other operators in the country to bow down to competition in the market.

All is set for the authority’s decision on subscribers charges across the networks, currently Essar Yu and Airtel Kenya is at KSh3 (US$0.04), Telkom KSh 4 (US$ 0.05) while Safaricom costs KSh5 (US$0.06) per minute.

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