Kenyan regulator warns Airtel, Telkom over poor services

Saturday January 20 2024

An employee of the Telkom Kenya attends to a customer at a shop in Nairobi. Telkom Kenya posted the steepest drop in quality for the period under review. PHOTO | AFP


The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has issued warning notices to Airtel and Telkom Kenya for non-compliance with the Quality of Service (QoS) standards offered to consumers on their mobile telephony networks.

In its just-released QoS report for the year ended June 2023, the industry regulator indicates that only market leader Safaricom surpassed the 80 percent performance threshold, after it posted a 90 percent score of the set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

"The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has issued warning notices to Airtel and Telkom Kenya for non-compliance with the quality of service (QoS) provided to consumers on their mobile telephony networks," the regulator said in a statement.

According to the report, Airtel and Telkom Kenya attained 79 percent and 65 percent respectively, translating to an industry average of 72.4 percent, with the score emerging as a significant drop compared to the average of 82.3 percent attained in the year to June 2022 and 75.5 percent in the previous year.

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CA says that a mobile operator is rated compliant when they attain 80 percent of the set QoS KPIs.


"Airtel Kenya Networks and Telkom Kenya failed to meet not only their coverage targets but also a number of the most critical QoS KPIs, particularly the ‘Unsuccessful Call Ratio’ and ‘Data Internet’ KPIs, which is an indicator for coverage and Internet availability/accessibility respectively," reads the report in part.

Section 23 of the Kenya Information and Communications Act, 1998, mandates the regulator to ensure that licensed telecom operators and service providers offer good quality services in line with the licence conditions.

Among the KPIs used to assess performance include End-to-End QoS, Quality of Experience (QoE) and Network Performance (NP-QoS).

During the period under review, Safaricom’s end-to-end QoS, which measures communication services’ overall quality and reliability, recorded a dip for the third consecutive year to stand at 87.6 percent, down from a 95 percent score in the 2021/2022 period and a 95.7 percent mark in the preceding year.

Telkom Kenya posted the steepest drop from the 73 percent mark it obtained during the 2021/2022 period to 54.8 percent in the latest release, in a development linked to a network disruption last June after the American Tower Corporation (ATC) switched off its towers for failing to pay outstanding leasing fees.

"End-to-end quality of service assessment is done using drive tests for outdoor sites, while walk tests are adopted for indoors. The drive tests were done across 44 counties that are currently accessible in terms of local Security," states CA.

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On the QoE parameter, which is a tool used to ascertain consumers’ satisfaction levels with telco services, Safaricom led the pack at 89.4 percent followed by Airtel and Telkom at 87.2 percent and 84.8 percent respectively.

CA has flagged ageing base transceiver stations (BTS), as well as their sparse deployment, as the most likely contributing factor to the failure of Airtel and Telkom Kenya to meet the KPI thresholds, adding that the two operators showed good performance in urbanised areas while having below-average coverage in rural areas and far-flung areas.

"The Authority has, therefore, proceeded to levy a penalty for underperformance in offering quality of service in the mobile network subsector by Telkom Kenya and Airtel Networks," said the regulator.

"The penalty was accompanied by a notice of non-compliance, which requires the networks to improve on their current performance during the next assessment and failure for which an escalated sanction level will be applied."