CCK threatens to revoke Flashcom licence over illegal connection

Telecoms

Telecom operator Flashcom Limited risks losing its licence because of illegal connection of international voice traffic through Safaricom’s network and failure to pay annual operation fees.

In a letter dated May 16, the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) has given Flashcom Ltd 45 days to clear its annual licence fees arrears of Sh67 million, a penalty of Sh2 million and submit its quarterly returns. CCK has also suspended the company’s connection agreement with Safaricom.

Flashcom is also accused of operating a faulty billing system that overcharged its subscribers who mainly access its services for fixed calls and data products.      

“You are further directed to remedy all the above conservations within 45 days of the date hereof, failure to which further enforcement measures will be taken against, including but not limited to licence revocation,” said Francis Wangusi, the acting CCK director general. “The commission hereby suspends the interconnection agreement between yourself and Safaricom Ltd until and unless remedial action is taken as herein before directed.”

Flashcom’s trouble with the regulator began early in January, following a sudden increase in volume traffic on its network, which Flashcom attributed the surge to signing of a new client Encom Solutions, but which later CCK found out to be terminating international traffic, which was against the licensing condition. CCK says it has been forced to take the tough measures against the firm after it refused to comply with its earlier warning.

“The commission notified you of the foregoing contravention and directed that you remedy the same. However, in a blatant disregard of the said notice, you persist in the contraventions.”

CCK’s action could be the last blow to the only local loop operator (LLO) that has remained in operation after the other Popote Wireless closed shop due to new regulatory framework and stiff competition from mobile firms.

While CCK had licensed a total of 24 local loop operators by 2007, only the two firms managed to rollout their services. The local loop operators were issued with licences to increase access to fixed lines, popularly known as landlines and expand last mile access for the internet access.   The conditions, however, limited their on-net traffic to a geographical area.