Safaricom wins in calls suit

Phone call

A woman makes a phone call.

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The Communications and Multimedia Appeals Tribunal has ruled that Safaricom has a right to block illegal international calls routed through local numbers, handing the giant telco victory in a long-drawn feud with two smaller rivals.

The tribunal threw out an appeal by Elige Communications Ltd, which sought to overturn a Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) ruling in favour of Safaricom.

Another small telco, Geonet Communications was also caught in the row because some of the Elige customers allegedly made calls through its calling cards. CA had ruled that the Safaricom rivals were required to reveal the location of their customers so as to pay the required costs of transmitting international calls to local mobile providers.

The tribunal said although Elige Communications customers are internet-based and do not require SIM cards, the law specifically says that providers regulated by CA have to register their customers in person or through their agents.

Safaricom has been blocking callers from rivals accusing them of SIM boxing, a practice where international calls are routed through local numbers, bypassing the international rates and often undercutting prices charged by local mobile operators.

“Communications Authority finding that Geonet communications limited was guilty of sim boxing by reason of the absence of international numbers in its call details records is upheld,” Rosemary Kuria chairperson- Communications and Multimedia Appeals Tribunal said.