Kenya Mulls Mandatory National Roaming Between Mobile Networks


Kenya's telecoms regulator has proposed new rules that would mandate the sharing of facilities by the country's mobile networks. The intent is to strengthen the position of the smaller networks against the dominant Safaricom.

The Communications Authority of Kenya said national roaming is the next frontier of "raising the bar on competition" in the sector.

It will however wait for a related court case between Safaricom and Airtel over Airtel's wish that Safaricom be barred from demanding that its mobile money agents only offer Safaricom services.

Airtel wants mobile money agents to be able to offer services from a range of providers, including of course, itself. That would enable it to grow its distributor reach much quicker than if it has to sign up new agents in each town.

The regulator's plans would cover mobile network infrastructure and services.

"What it will mean is that a customer in any part of the country will automatically use any network available, where their primary mobile services provider is unavailable." the director-general Francis Wangusi said.

He did add that the agreements would be at commercial rates agreed between the networks, but there would presumably therefore have to be an arbitration process if the two companies cannot agree on prices.