Cross-network end-user call rates in Kenya are expected to drop next week when new wholesale interconnection charges (mobile termination rates [MTRs]) are announced, reports the Daily Nation. The Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) appointed UK-based strategy consultants, Analysys Mason to study the country’s call rates last month, and the consultancy firm has recommended halving the current fees that cellcos charge one another for terminating calls. Analysys Mason advised the CCK that MTRs should be cut to KES4.42 (USD0.05) in September, and then decreased in phases before being scrapped altogether in January 2014. MTRs have decreased in recent years from KES6.4 in 2007 to KES5.6 (2008) and KES4.72 (2009). According to sources, the CCK will unveil the new rates within the next seven days.
Atul Chaturvedi, country manager of Essar Telecom Kenya, welcomed the move, complaining that the current termination charges make calls to other networks expensive, and lock mobile phone subscribers into networks with cheaper inter-network charges, curtailing market growth. He commented: ‘We are happy with the recommendations, and hope that the benefits will be passed on to operators and enable us to reduce calling charges’. Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph criticised the ‘price wars’ that have dominated the Kenyan wireless market in recent years, suggesting that the industry needs effective competition through product innovation and quality of service, adding: ‘We cannot sell minutes at a loss. Let them reduce rates, but it will only be for a short time. A business must make returns’.