The Kenyan Communications Authority (CA), the regulator of ICT related services, has issued new customer care guidelines for public participation. A section of this document provides that telecom companies will pay their customers for some periods when they experience service disruptions.
The document called the “Draft Consumer Protection Guidelines
September 2020” aims to “protect customers from abrupt changes to or termination of communication services without an opportunity to arrange for the provision of the same/similar services with another provider,” among other provisions.
The CA wants telecom companies to compensate their respective customers for service outages due to system failure. They are to either pay their users or them credit equivalent to the time they were without access to voice and SMS services.
For customers that stopped using that service provider, the CA states that they are to be compensated and not offered credit.
The exceptions to this rule are when the service outage is a result of scheduled and publicised maintenance, emergency or natural disaster. Mainly circumstances beyond their control.
Prior to this regulation, the CA only enforced sanctions on telcos for service outages. According to some reports, this could amount to 0.2% of their annual revenues
These telcos have faced regulatory investigations in the past regarding service outages. In 2017, Airtel and Safaricom were fined Ksh26.6 million ($245,000) and Ksh270 million ($2.5 million) respectively for service disruptions.
Safaricom and Airtel Kenya make up almost 90% of telecom users in Kenya, and service disruptions to these telcos could mean a majority of Kenyans don’t have access to calls, SMS, Internet, or even financial services.
While the new guideline might be good news to customers, the likes of Safaricom, Airtel, and Telkom Kenya would have to place more effort on offering quality services.
However, it is not clear if this measure would be the most effective to improve service quality. This is considering that several factors influence the value chain of service delivery in the telecom sector.
The CA states that more details on the service outage policy and the caveats involved will be released to the public. In the meantime, you can tell us what you think.
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