Mobile phone users will now pay a maximum of Sh30 on calls regardless of the tariff they are in. Industry regulator, Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK), on Thursday ordered Safaricom and Celtel to adjust their call charges to a maximum of Sh30 from next month.

The regulator also slashed the cost of connecting calls between mobile and fixed line operators by 57 per cent to Sh1.74 from Sh4. The CCK orders were contained in new guidelines, released on Thursday, that should open the way for a decline in the costs of telecommunication. CCK also announced that by next month, interconnection rates between mobile networks would drop by 23 per cent to Sh6.28 from the current Sh8.12.

CCK Director-General John Waweru said the new rates are aimed at slashing the huge costs incurred when making calls across the networks. The cost of making calls between mobile phone networks will also drop to less than Sh30 by July 1, the regulator said.

"Coupled with the lower termination rates being unveiled today, it is the Commission's conviction that this will cultivate traffic growth, long-term revenue flows for operators and delivery of the benefits of competition to consumers and the economy at large," said Waweru.

"We believe that this new pricing system will stimulate competition and facilitate the delivery of quality and affordable services. We do not expect this to have any negative financial effect on the companies because the market's potential is yet to be fully exploited. You just have to wait and see what I am saying ," he said.

The guidelines are expected to end a price war between Celtel and Safaricom. Waweru said the new guidelines were effected after a thorough analysis of the market, which took 12 months to conclude. The study was undertaken by Analysis Consulting Limited of the UK. It was aimed at establishing acceptable wholesale and retail costs and prices of telecommunication services to help CCK determine the best way the industry could grow.

The East African Standard