Airtel joins Telkom in support of cheaper rates; Safaricom remains hesitant

Airtel has released a press statement in support of the Communication Authority of Kenya’s (CA) new mobile termination rates. The telco has commended the Authority for what it calls a timely determination on termination rates which will greatly benefit the Kenyan consumer.

It joins Telkom Kenya which already declared support terming the move a progressive step towards making voice services more affordable and accessible to more Kenyans.

Safaricom however has gone to court seeking to have the new termination rates declared invalid as they claim due process wasn’t followed by the Authority. Safaricom claims the CA ignored public participation, and that it didn’t provide the necessary evidence of how it reached the decision to reduce the termination rates.

In its press statement Airtel points out that the current MTR of KES 0.99 (which is due to change to KES 0.12 on January 1st 2022) has been applied for about 7 years whereas it was intended to apply for only one year.

Airtel argues that CA’s reduction takes into consideration the 7 year delay and that it is fully aligned with the interests of the consumer.

As explained in this article, termination rates are the costs one telco charges another when they receive a call from them. A company like Airtel has been said to be paying up to KES 300 million per month to Safaricom in termination charges. This is expected to go down with the reduced rates.

Airtel says customers will benefit from better services with the new rates as telcos will have more money to invest into their infrastructure and networks as opposed to using the money to pay high interconnection fees.

The reduction, the company argues, will also increase mobile penetration in Kenya and enhance access to voice and data services to support the Government’s broadband strategy and better position Kenya as a regional ICT Hub.

On Safaricom’s decision to go to court, Airtel says, “We believe that any attempt to delay or scuttle the implementation of the MTR will deny consumers the benefits of more affordable calling prices. This benefit to consumers needs to be protected considering that high Mobile Termination Rates are not meant to be a revenue source for Mobile or Fixed voice service providers but an enabler for seamless calling which improves consumer access to communication.”

It will be interesting to see what happens once there’s a determination by the the Communications and Multi-media appeals tribunal.

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