Airtel Kenya recently announced a downward review of its out-of-bundle browsing rates on all plans to 1KSH per 5 MB. Apparently, the new charges are relatively low compared to the previous 21.50 KSH per 5 MB. And this is coming on the heels of the recent Telkom-Airtel merger.
Clearly, this translates to having a substitute for data bundles for Airtel subscribers in Kenya. As the case is, airtime billing for browsing hasn’t been this low with other service providers. For instance, Safaricom, Airtel Kenya’s main rival, has out-of-bundle charges ranging from 1.50 to 3.50KSH per MB depending on the plan.
As much as this is a favorable move, it is quite obvious that the goal is to attract more users. But then, it is not clear if Safaricom is interested in a price war given their history, as Airtel made its intention public a month ago.
In a way, Airtel’s sharp reduction in charges is the result of a non-existent price floor control for telcos in the country. Conversely, it is an entirely different case in Nigeria where the telco also operates. In Nigeria, at the moment, airtime browsing billing for Airtel subscribers is ₦15/5MB which is within the same range as other network providers.
Ironically, in December 2019, Bharti Airtel initiated a 42% raise on all tariffs for Indians, but it was done across board with other telcos due to certain economic hitches.
It, therefore, appears that Airtel Kenya is on its way to building a monopoly in out-of-bundle browsing tariffs. Perhaps, if these prices are controlled by appropriate regulatory agencies, with price floors and price ceilings, it would engender healthy competition.