Kenya’s Mobile Operators Meet with Communications Commission over Quality of Services

The Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) today held a meeting with Kenya’s mobile network operators to discuss several issues including the recent Quality of Service (QoS) report that allegedly detailed the operators’ failure to meet set targets.

According to reports, the four mobile operators failed to meet the 80% minimum QoS threshold for the period that ended in June 2013.

The Kenya watchdog stated in the report that Kenya’s Telkom Orange attained 62.5% rating, while the remaining players-Safaricom, yuMobile, and Airtel tied at 50%.

The recent finding has reportedly renewed the entrenched dispute between one of the operators and the regulator over the methodology used to evaluate their services.

On this note, Safaricom’s CEO, Bob Collymore, disputed the methodology, deescribing it as erroneous.

He further cited an independent analysis that ranked Safaricom at 87.5 %.

Last week, the government issued a warning to the operators urging them to comply with the regulation. The government, through a statement, further stated that the operators face the likelihood of being shut down for non-compliance.

Reports have cited blocked and dropped calls, as well as speech and network quality as major issues affecting customer experience overall.

The meeting held today endorsed a plan to improve the sector’s performance. Francis Wangusi, Director of CCK said the discussions highlighted new SIM card regulations, cyber security, and quality of service.

The operators and regulator also vowed to decrease costly roaming charges within East Africa.

Wangusi also said the regulator would facilitate the implementation of policies to improve the performance of the ICT sector.

Meanwhile, CEOs from Safaricom, Airtel, Yu and Orange have approved a set of guidelines to boost competitiveness and streamline their operations.

The operators also agreed to discuss the parameters and methodology for the QoS measurement with the regulator in view of altering the sector’s dynamics.

The CCK director further added that the mobile operators vowed to improve collaboration among themselves and the regulator in order to tackle challenges that undermine the sector’s growth.

Meanwhile, ICT Consumers Association of Kenya (ICAK) wants the CCK to exercise impartiality in implementing the QoS regulations regardless of the size of the mobile operator.

ICAK also wants the industry to view the QoS report as an opportunity to improve service quality.

During an interview, Alex Gakuru, the organization’s chair, remarked that the industry has good reporting and testing parameters, therefore it is only logical for consumers to expect continued engagement.

According to Kenya’s operating licensing laws, non-complying firms are to pay Ksh 500,000 in penalty.

Last year, the CCK enhanced diverse compliance percentages in light of anticipated increased investment and service improvement by the mobile operators. Some of the parameters that the CCK enhanced were completed calls and the rate of handover success.

According to reports, mobile operators such as Safaricom have another opportunity to undergo QoS checks after reportedly failing a previous assessment performed by the industry watchdog.

On this note, the CCK has reportedly agreed to provide the mobile operator with fresh tests.

CCK director, Francis Wangusi, remarked that the operator has an opportunity to undergo another assessment between now and the time its license is up for renewal. However, the director adds that this can only happen if the operator makes a request.

For now, Wangusi asserts that government agencies are working to handle the challenges facing the operators. Meanwhile, mobile operators face the likelihood of not renewing their licenses if they do not comply with the set standards.

However, observers point out that this might prove challenging for Safaricom, which has more than 20 million subscribers and remitted Ksh 23.6 billion in taxes, license fees and duties for the period that ended on 30th September 2013.

Following this meeting, major players and consumers alike can anticipate changes in the industry and from the mobile operators.

Photo: CCK Director-Francis Wangusi

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