Telcos escape paying the price for dropped calls

Telecom firms in Kenya can heave a sigh of relief as they have been spared from compensating customers for dropped calls after expiry of a proposed law that looked to impose a penalty of up to Sh30 daily for network outages.

The Kenya Information and Communication (Amendment) Bill was brought to Parliament in 2020 to force mobile phone operators to improve quality and availability of calls on their networks. The proposed law has, however, expired and therefore will not mature into law.

The Bill had proposed that companies such as Safaricom, Airtel Kenya and Telkom Kenya would be compelled to pay customers Sh10 for every dropped call, with clients being compensated for a maximum of three dropped calls daily for up to Sh30.

Expiry of the Bill is a big advantage for the telcos as they would have been compelled to spend millions of shillings to compensate callers who suffer outages on the networks. A Bill expires or lapses when it is not read for the second time and taken before the respective Parliamentary committee for scrutiny within a calendar year.

“The following Bills which were published in 2019 and whose second reading had not been concluded by end of the fifth session have now lapsed,” Justin Muturi, the Speaker of the National Assembly said on Wednesday.

The proposed law had however exempted mobile operators from paying users for dropped calls attributed to factors beyond their control. Such factors are referred to as force majeure.

Callers are currently suffer the consequences of poor mobile network without any form of compensation. This has emerged as a  weak link in the communication as mobile firms from paying the price for compromised quality of their services.

The proposed changes to the law would have piled more pressure on telcos given that they currently risk fines of up to 0.2 percent of their annual revenues for service outages.

Industry regulator Communications Authority (CA) is currently allowed by law to sanction any telecommunications company that inconveniences customers through service interruptions as a result of omission on its part.

CA last year flagged Airtel and Telkom for poor quality of calls on their networks across 33 counties in 2020 but failed to sanction them and instead put them on notice saying that a repeat of the outages would attract fines.

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