NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 4 – The Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) should consider instituting cost-based interconnection charges as one way of enhancing competition in the telecommunications industry.
Kenya Data Networks (KDN) Chief Executive Officer Kai Wulff argued that such a system would ensure that service providers charge interconnect rates that are reasonable which would in turn increase the access to telecommunication services.
“It’s very easy to determine if someone is behaving competitively or not. If I charge on-net calls at zero shillings then I should allow anybody that comes from outside to have zero shillings as well,” he said.
“The moment it is cheaper to call somebody in Australia than it is to call someone sitting in the same room as you simply because his SIM card has a different colour, then something is wrong,” he said.
Currently operators charge an average of Sh4.20 per minute for cross network tariffs, a move that has largely impeded inter-network traffic exchange.
There have been calls for the regulator to review the rates and it has already commissioned a study whose findings should be implemented in March 2010.
Mr Wulff spoke during the launch of a service dubbed ‘izzytalk’ which will enable their customers make free on-net calls and ‘affordable’ off-net and international calls using the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology.
This followed the acquisition of a ‘Local Loop Operator’ license from the CCK.
“This service will enable our customers to enjoy superior voice clarity and reliability at very affordable rates. It allows our customers across the globe to access the service conveniently from their computers through an IP phone or through the internet,” the CEO added.
Calls made through to mobile service providers will be charged at Sh7.70 while those to popular international destinations such as US and Europe will be charged as low as Sh2.62 inclusive of tax.
He said the service, which also has a conference facility, was not intended to compete with those offered by other fixed and mobile phone operators but was a bid to give their consumers a platform upon which they could carry out other innovative activities such as training.
“We have to live and anticipate what is needed in the near and far future. We have to structure products that will fit into a lifestyle that we think is required and is competitive on the international scale and those that will make our lives better immediately,” he said.