Safaricom fights CCK over voice quality checks


Safaricom is headed for a clash with the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) over quality checks that will determine the renewal of its licence next year. The mobile telecoms firm reckons that the regulator’s quality checks — which have labelled Safaricom non-compliant — are erroneous and that an independent assessment has given it a clean bill of health.

The telcos are expected to deliver overall performance of at least 80 per cent on eight indicators to be compliant, but Safaricom had the worst score of 50 per cent in the year to June while Airtel was rated at 62.5 per cent. Telkom and Essar both achieved 87.5 per cent.

On Wednesday, Safaricom said an independent assessor had given it a score of 87.5 per cent, a rating that is expected to spark a fresh row with the CCK.

The regulator has tied the renewal of Safaricom’s licence, which is due for renewal before June, to achieving the minimum quality standards and paying Sh2.3 billion.

“We are concerned by the latest CCK results as there are several discrepancies between those released by the commission and similar tests carried out by an independent company based on international benchmarks,” noted Safaricom in its sustainability report.

The CCK found that Safaricom and Airtel failed to meet minimum quality of service standards in the year to June and declared smaller rivals, Telkom Orange and Essar Telecom, compliant.

Francis Wangusi, CCK director-general said earlier that Safaricom had failed to meet the quality standards over the past three years, posting a performance of 50 per cent last year against the minimum limit of 80 per cent.

“The renewal of the licence shall be dependent on Safaricom’s commitment to adhere to the set minimum quality of service standards by June 30, 2014 and successful conclusion of negotiations on the new terms and conditions,” said Mr Wangusi.

Since its licensing in July 1999, Safaricom has had a great impact on the Kenyan economy with innovative products like M-Pesa, Okoa Jahazi and M-Shwari besides accounting for about 65 per cent of Kenya’s 30 million mobile phone subscribers.

But CCK has been concerned with Safaricom’s reported failure to meet the quality standards, which show that it met half of the key performance indicators. But Safaricom reckons that it only failed to meet the 80 per cent limit on one indicator, speech quality.

The operators are currently fined Sh500, 000 for breach of the quality of service standards and the State is looking to raise the fines, saying the current penalty is too lenient and has failed to make the operators comply.