On 26th November 2010, the Commission released its first-ever Assessment Report on the Quality of Service (QoS) offered by the four cellular mobile operators in the Kenya. The release of the 2009/2010 QoS report has been greeted with mixed reactions in the industry with some operators questioning the timing and the credibility of the results. In light of this reaction and in order to shed light on this pertinent matter, the Commission would like to state as follows:
- Section 23 of the Kenya Communications Act, 1998, mandates the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) to ensure that the licensed telecommunications operators and service providers offer good quality services. In executing this responsibility, CCK ensures all licences have a condition that obligates licensees to provide good quality service to their customers. This requirement is meant to ensure that ICT consumers get value for money in terms of the quality of services offered. The release of this report should therefore be understood from this regulatory perspective.
- In December 2006, CCK acquired equipment for measuring QoS for cellular mobile operators (also known as Qvoice). Prior to acquiring the equipment, CCK used to rely on analysis of compliance returns from the operators to assess their QoS performance. Invariably, the returns used to indicate that the mobile telecoms operators had met, if not surpassed, the QoS parameters and targets outlined in their respective licences. Over time, CCK, however, came to establish that there were disparities between customer experience and submitted QoS data through analysis of consumer complaints. To address this issue, CCK purchased a GSM QoS measurement equipment to independently determine the level of compliance by the operators on QoS performance. The report that CCK has just published is based on independent QoS measurements in line with global best practice. Measurement of QoS by ICT regulators is standard practice globally as an instrument of consumer protection.
- Upon acquisition of the equipment, CCK entered into extensive discussions with the operators with a view to rationalizing and harmonizing the QoS parameters and targets to ensure parity and progress towards international standards. Ultimately, eight (8) QoS parameters and targets were agreed upon and subsequently gazetted. The first six QoS parameters were gazetted on 6th February 2009 and the remaining two additional parameters on August 2009 after more consultations with the operators. Further, CCK shared the QoS measurement methodology with operators on 4th August 2009. The operators have had all the time to study and raise any issue with the methodology. The said methodology complies with the GSM Association’s recommended guidelines, to which the mobile operators are party. Therefore the complaint regarding the timing of the report and methodology used to carry out the assessment is not only dishonest but unfounded. As a matter of fact, it has taken CCK close to four (4) years since the purchase of the Qvoice to publish the first assessment report in order to engage operators as much as possible despite the huge public outcry over QoS.
- Instead of complaining, operators that have not met the stipulated QoS targets should focus on upgrading their QoS performance to ensure that customers enjoy the quality of service that they pay for. This year, CCK has shared the report with the operators to assist them improve their performance. Going forward, CCK shall levy penalties for non-conformity with the set QoS as stipulated by the law. We wish to assure consumers of ICT services that we shall continue carrying out the assessments on a yearly basis and publishing the arising QoS reports so that consumers can make informed choices in the market.
- CCK also finds the pretext of insufficient spectrum as lacking merit because GSM spectrum is finite and equal in all countries. There are some countries with more mobile telecoms operators than Kenya where licensees share the same amount of spectrum. Some of these operators do provide much better quality services while having a much higher subscriber base than any of the network operators here in Kenya. Good service quality is determined largely by proper network planning and optimization rather than deployment of additional spectrum which is universally a scarce resource. Spectrum utilization is all about good planning as frequencies are scarce resources. As the sector regulator, CCK has an obligation to manage frequency spectrum prudently to meet the ever-increasing demand from a multiplicity of wireless applications and users.