Telecom giants, Safaricom, and other mobile phone operators such as Airtel and Telkom Kenya will now have to compensate customers when network outages knock out voice, data, and text services as per the new law.
The new law seeks to force the telecommunications providers to either pay or offer credit equivalent to the time mobile phone users ae without SMS or voice services.
The new rules are aimed at protecting millions of mobile phone users from poor services related to network outages and lack of Internet connections.
The Communications Authority of Kenya is allowed by law to sanction any telecommunication company that inconveniences customers through service interruptions as a result of omission on its part.
A telecommunication company found in breach risks a fine of up to 0.2 percent of its revenues, which could go up to hundreds of millions.
The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) wants to include compensation to clients for mobile phone outages.
“A licensee shall develop and implement an outage credit policy in situations where service is unavailable due to system failure and not as a result of scheduled and publicized maintenance, emergency or natural disaster,” said the draft rules.
“(The policy) will compensate subscribers or issue credit equivalent to usage over a similar period that outage lasted (and) compensate customers for each day that service has been unavailable.”
Such compensation will be based on how much the telecom company charges per minute for data and calls.
In 2019 Kenya registered 55.5 million mobile phone subscribers who made 58.78 billion minutes of calls.
Planned outraged and those caused by factors beyond the control of the operator, known as force majeure, normally do not attract sanctions.
Kenya is seeking to join countries in the West where users of telecom services are compensated in the form of airtime on their bill after network outages.
In some countries in Europe, mobile phone users are allowed to claim any out-of-pocket expenses that resulted from being without phone services.
Safaricom and Airtel have faced regulatory investigations after outages left their customers without services for hours.
This allows for insurance of fine should the network outage be deemed to be the products of omissions by the telecom company.
Network outages have also been viewed as a threat to the economy, especially for essential services such as money transfers.
A 2016 Treasury report warned that a collapse in money transfer service could, for instance, cause widespread economic disruptions.
The regulator has been considering imposing heavier penalties for operators that offer poor services – data, voice, and data.
Two years ago CA launched a new monitoring system that was to track network performance and customer experience
Before the adoption of the 0.2 percent of gross revenue fine, operators were required to pay a flat rate of Sh500,000 which the CA at the time deemed too lenient.