Mobile service providers including Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom Kenya will now be required to compensate their subscribers for network outages affecting voice, SMS and data in the new draft regulations.
The regulations have been published for public comment. The draft proposes to have telecom companies pay their subscribers or offer them credit for periods when they are unable to access voice, SMS and data services.
The new rules will protect millions of customers who are subjected to poor services without recourse. The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) can sanction any telecom company causing inconvenience to its customers by providing below par services.
Any operator found in breach of the set rules risks a fine of up to 0.2 percent of its revenues, which could run into millions.
“A licensee shall develop and implement an outage credit policy in situations where service is unavailable due to system failure and not as a result of scheduled and publicised maintenance, emergency or natural disaster,” say the draft rules.
“(The policy) will compensate subscribers or issue credit equivalent to usage over similar period that outage lasted (and) compensate customers for each day that service has been unavailable.”
Compensation from the operator will be based on how much they charge for the services
Data from the CA shows that 55.2 million mobile phone subscribers made 58.78 billion minutes of phone calls, an increase from 39.19 billion n 2018.
Scheduled outages and those caused by factors beyond the control of the operator, otherwise known as force majeure do not attract the described sanctions.
The proposed measures will see Kenya join Western countries where telecom mobile subscribers get compensated by extra credit on their bills following outages.
In 2017, the CA fined Airtel Sh 26.6 million for its failure to meet the set standards in terms of call quality. Within the same period, Safaricom was also fined Sh 270 million while Telkom Kenya paid Sh 14.9 million for poor service quality.
Telecommunications service outages are considered a threat to the economy especially due to critical services such as Mobile Money transfers.