Authority orders tower company to restore services to Telkom Customers

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has directed Telkom Kenya Limited (TKL) to quickly address a commercial dispute with Eaton Towers Kenya Limited (ETKL) that saw the latter switch off TKL transmitters, resulting in service outage for TKL customers.

In a statement, CA says Eaton Towers claims the suspension of services to TKL on December 7 was prompted by a KSh. 255.6 million (USD 2,515, 563) debt that mobile network operator owes it in applicable fees for the period September-November 2019.

As a result, Eaton Towers switched off TKL’s 49 telecommunications sites, impacting 70 base transmitter stations and in effect affecting several customers in various parts of the country. Both data and voices services, including text and mobile money were affected.

During a meeting convened with the two parties on Friday December 13, the Authority noted with concern that the licensees did not handle the matter in line with the dispute resolution mechanisms provided for in the licence conditions on interruption of services.

‘‘The condition requires a licensee to seek and obtain written approval from the Authority, issue a reasonable advance notice to persons likely to be affected by the interruption or suspension of service,’’ CA said in the Directive signed by its Acting Director General, Mercy Wanjau.

The two parties have been directed to follow the established dispute resolution mechanisms in liaison with the Authority, as well as adherence to the Master Tower Agreement signed between them.

In order to cushion TKL customers from further agony, the Authority ordered Eaton Towers to restore the services by midnight 13th December 2019 or risk regulatory sanctions. The services have since been restored.

Section 23 and 47 of the Kenya Communications Act, 1998, mandates the Authority to protect users and consumers of communications services with regard to the prices, the quality and variety of those services.

Article 46 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 also provides for a raft of consumer rights, including rights of consumers to “information necessary for them to gain full benefits from goods and services, and to the protection of their health, safety and economic interests.”

In the meantime, the Authority also directed Telkom Kenya Limited to make good effort to remedy its commercial obligations towards Eaton Towers Kenya Limited.

‘‘The Authority remains committed to working collaboratively with service providers in order to seek solutions to consumers, and also ensure that the business of our licensees continues to grow and thrive,’’ the CA Ag. Director General noted in the Directive. The Authority is scheduled to meet the two parties for a review of the progress on the matter 20th December 2019.

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