Kenyan telcos turn to mobile data price war

By Victor Magunamu, Kenya

Telkom and Airtel Kenya have not hiked mobile internet costs in their mobile tariffs price review announced this week, this even as they bank on data prices to take on Safaricom Plc, the leading telco in Kenya.

In a statement to media, Telkom announced an increment of 30 cents to mobile prepaid voice and 10 cents for short messages.

‘’This translates to a revision of our costs as follows: Off-net calls at Sh3.30cts per minute, on-net calls at Sh2.30cts per minute and SMS (any-net) at Sh1.10cts per SMS,’’ the Telkom statement read.

It also added 30 cents per megabyte to Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) price for mobile data, pushing a new Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) price to Sh4.30cts.

It however retained current prices for mobile data.

Airtel Kenya on other hand raised headline voice and data tariffs by 30 cents and 10 cents for SMS. This was attributed to increase in excise duty as outline in recently enacted Finance Act 2018. The law raised tax on voice, data and SMS tariff from 10 to 15 per cent.

‘’Despite this increase, our tariffs remain the most competitively priced. We have also ensured that the prices of all voice and data bundles including Unliminet, Tubonge and Amazing Data bundles remain unchanged,’’ statement from Airtel Kenya read.

While the two firms have lowered mobile data prices, Safaricom which was the first to effect price change in view of Finance Act 2018, raised prices for all its products, including mobile data.

“We wish to notify our customers that from midnight tonight, the 18th October 2018, our headline price for voice calls and data will increase by 30 cents and SMS by 10 cents,” said Safaricom Chief Executive, Bob Collymore.

Telkom and Airtel Kenya have been rebranding and slashing prices in a move to fight Safaricom’s dominance in the country. Latest statistics shows that the two networks are gaining new subscribers at faster rates than Safaricom

Communications Authority of Kenya data indicates Safaricom’s share of the voice traffic dropped to 72.5 per cent in the quarter to December 2017, from 80.6 per cent in a similar period a year earlier.

This was a drop of 8.1 per cent, while rival Airtel Kenya gained 22 per cent up from 13.5 per cent in a similar period the previous year.

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