Safaricom risks CA penalty over network outages

Safaricom Plc this week piggybacked on the Twitter hashtag #TwaTwa to assure its over 31 million subscribers of no future network outages, after several interruptions starting Saturday.

The network failure hindered consumers from calling, using MPESA or texting across the country. Yesterday morning, subscribers could not redeem their Bonga Points as the short code *456 # was not functional.

''We endeavor to ensure the network is twa twa everywhere and you are adequately covered whether garini (in car) or in the kitchen,'' the telco tweeted in response to a user who had complained.

The firm did not specify the exact cause of the outage in a day when its subscribers expressed their displeasure via social media.

On Monday, a local news portal had reported that the regulator, Communication Authority of Kenya was investigating Safaricom's weekend network outage.

Service outages are increasingly putting telcos at the risk of penalties from the regulator, which is permitted by law to sanction any telecommunications company that inconveniences customers through service interruptions as a result of omission on their part.

The law provides that an operator in breach be fined up to 0.2 per cent of the firm’s revenues, which could run into hundreds of millions.

Last year, the regulator fined Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom Sh311 million for not meeting service standards for the 2015/16 financial year.

Safaricom was fined Sh293.5 million in 2017, Sh157 million in 2016 and Sh500,000 in 2015. The telco met the minimum threshold last year thus escaping the fine.

None of the firms achieved the 80 per cent minimum threshold for the fourth year running.

A mobile operator is rated compliant when it attains this mark in the evaluation of key performance indicators.

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