Airtel Kenya, Telkom Kenya and the Consumers Federation of Kenya have joined a case which Safaricom petitioned a tribunal to block the sector regulator’s decision to cut mobile termination rates (MTR) to Sh 0,12 per minute from the current Sh 0.99 per minute.
MTR are the charges levied by a mobile service provider on other telecommunications service providers for terminating calls in its network.
The trio has joined the legal fight to support Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) in the appeal filed by Safaricom before the Communications and Multimedia Appeals Tribunal.
The two telcos (Airtel and Telkom) had earlier criticized Safaricom for seeking to scuttle the recently announced reduction in MTR, accusing the leading telco of only being interested in protecting its revenues from rivals. The proposed MTR rates will, in the long run, lower the costs for the consumers.
The CA has said the cut will have a positive impact on both consumers and operators, adding the review will reduce the need for consumers to own multiple SIM cards as charges across networks come down.
Safaricom argues the move to cut the charges will negatively impact on its revenues and profitability and occasion it financial loss. But both Airtel and Telkom have backed the regulator’s decision, saying it will ensure a level-playing field for all, while protecting the commercial interests of smaller operators.
Safaricom’s application to the tribunal had the Rosemary Kuria chaired tribunal suspend CA’s decision on the cuts that were expected to be implemented from the start of this year. The final decision has been suspended until the appeal is heard and determined.
The matter was heard before the tribunal Wednesday and will next be brought before the Tribunal on February 2.
A smaller operator tends to pay more in mobile termination rates because its users are likely to spend more time on other networks than its own.
Industry data shows that the rate has been falling gradually from a high of Sh4.42 in 2011 to the just reviewed Sh0.99, which has been in place since 2015, marking a freeze of more than five years amid intense lobbying by some top telcos.
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