Kenya’s telecommunications industry regulator the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) has rated Safaricom and Airtel’s mobile networks as the poorest in the country.
According to CCK, the two operators failed to meet the minimum network standards, set at 80 percent.
Safaricom scored 50 percent as compared to the 75 percent it attained last year, while Airtel Kenya scored 62.5 percent compared to last year’s 75 percent.
CCK said the smaller operators in the country performed better than the two, with both Telkom and Essar (Yu) scoring 87.5 percent.
Following the latest results, CCK is seeking to have the penalty for operators who fall below the standards raised from KSh500,000 (US$5,900), terming the current fine as “too lenient” to make the operators comply.
“We need to change the policy and make the fines a little bit higher to make the operators take the matter of quality more seriously than they do now,” Kenya’s Information and Communications ministry permanent secretary Bitange Ndemo told Business Daily.
Ndemo argued that the current fine is “insignificant” to the firms, as they make billions of shillings in revenues. In March this year, Safaricom’s reported sales stood at KSh107 billion (US$1.3 billion).
CCK’s quality assessment is based on different indicators, including completion of calls, success of call set-up, the call setup time, call drop rates, blocked call tendencies, speech quality, handover success rate and the strength of the received signals.
The quality report released by CCK last week showed that Safaricom and Airtel failed to meet seven out of the eight benchmarks set.
Safaricom and Airtel were found to have the worst compliance levels in areas with most subscriber activity, such as in Nairobi and Central Province.
Both operators have admitted to the lack of quality, with Safaricom’s chief executive Bob Collymore saying: “We have issues with quality of our network in urban areas, especially in Nairobi where we experience drop call.”
He added that they have set aside billions of shillings for network expansion.