Safaricom, Zain in capacity bust-up; CCK to investigate ‘interconnection pact’

24 Aug 2010

Kenyan cellco Zain has accused rival Safaricom of ‘abusing its dominance’ by only offering limited capacity for cross-network calls originating from the Zain network. Zain, which recently slashed call tariffs by 50%, has complained that customers are experiencing call congestion when calling Safaricom’s network. Safaricom has responded by saying that the problems experienced by Zain subscribers are due to Zain’s failure to observe industry protocols. Zain Kenya said that traffic on its network rose after it cut cross-network calling rates, but Safaricom has failed to increase capacity accordingly, despite a prior request.

Zain Kenya Managing Director Rene Meza commented: ‘We simply requested for a swap-out of some circuits from the Safaricom to Zain link to the Zain to Safaricom link. In our experience, such a request can be accommodated in a matter of minutes and at no cost. Much to our surprise, we could not get a commitment from Safaricom as to when the configuration would take place’. Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph retorted: ‘We will not take responsibility for the consequences of poor planning by other operators. We have always been courteous to Zain, even to the extent of accommodating them when they were unable to clear the significant debt that they owed us. This notwithstanding, we shall continue to cooperate with them, as guided by the inter-connect agreement and other industry rules’. Regulator the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) confirmed that it has received a formal complaint from Zain, and will investigate fully before issuing a statement.

Kenya, Airtel Kenya, Safaricom