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Safaricom takes porting firm to court

NAIROBI, Kenya May 3- Safaricom has now sued Porting Access Kenya for defamation over unsubstantiated claims of slowing down Mobile Number Portability (MNP).

This follows accusations by the mobile number portability service provider that Safaricom was sabotaging the new service in Kenya.

Safaricom Director of Corporate Affairs Nzioka Waita says Porting Access and its Managing Director Patrick Musimba have been peddling lies to consumers creating a scenario that paints a picture that Safaricom was the company blocking porting services.

"Safaricom has today instructed its lawyers to institute legal proceedings against Porting Access and the person of Mr Musimba for what we believe are acts of defamation and the tort of economic sabotage against Safaricom Limited; this legal action will be vigorously pursued to its logical end," Mr Waita told journalists on Tuesday.

He accused Porting Access of losing impartiality over the porting process; further charging that Mr Musimba was being used by one of the competitors to discredit Safaricom.

He said that Safaricom had called on the Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) to carry out a technical audit over the porting process to get the root cause of the hiccups.

"What we have seen are various attempts by Bharti Airtel and Porting Access to circumvent the outcome of that audit process.  We are appealing to the CCK to conclude that process so that we can have a baseline from which technical issues can be addressed to the benefit of the consumer," he stressed.

Last week, Porting Access, the firm that manages the switching, released data showing that since the service was launched in April, it had received 43,545 port requests.

However, Mr Musimba said that many requests remained blocked while short messages to 1501 were not going through as others timed out. Porting Access claims out of the total requests only 10,000 have been successful, 15,000 are pending while 11,000 timed out.

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According to Mr Waita an estimated 13,000 customers had left the network, but underlined that it was not clear whether those customers had switched to other networks.

He stressed that Safaricom was not opposed to number portability arguing it would stir up competition in the mobile telephony sector.

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