Mobile service providers will be required to compensate subscribers on instances of outages affecting access to various services from the telecommunication companies according to latest draft regulations. The guidelines published in the second week of September, provides for the service providers to compensate users in cash or credit equivalent to the duration subscribers stay without access to voice and text message services.
These new regulations are targeted at cushioning subscribers from poor services relating to network outages as well as absence or lack of internet connections. Telecommunication companies that flout these regulations can be sanctioned by the regulator lawfully upon reported service interruptions resulting from omissions on their part.
If they are approved, a mobile service operator will be fined amounts equivalent to up to 0.2 percent of its revenues which could be in excess of hundreds of millions. The communications Authority is now seeking to have providers compensate customers for such service outages.
According to the draft regulations, “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”.
Compensations shall be based on the amount an operator charges per minute for calls and data. As per current law, Scheduled outages as well as those caused by factors beyond the control of an operator technically known as force majeure, usually do not attract penalties.
If adopted, Kenya will effectively join western countries which demands service providers to compensate customers in the form of credit on their bill after network outages. Safaricom and Airtel have been notorious for service outages and consequently faced probe from the Authority for experiencing outages that lasted for several hours without service.