Telcos on the spot over voice and data service complaints

 Telkom data centre

 A section of the Telkom data centre at Telkom Milimani Exchange in Nairobi.

Photo credit: Diana Ngila | Nation Media Group

Poor voice and data services topped consumer complaints to the Communications Authority (CA) in the quarter ended June 2022, new data shows, turning the spotlight on telecommunications firms including Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom Kenya.

Protests over poor voice and data services accounted for half of the customer complaints made to the regulator between April 1 and June 30 this year, a report released yesterday said without giving a breakdown of the complaints against the individual telcos.

Complaints about the CA’s services and business opportunities came second at 28 percent in the quarter to June, followed by frequency interference (11 percent) and courier delivery delays (6 percent).

A quality report released by the regulator two months ago showed that Airtel Kenya had the worst mobile cellular services in the year to June 2021 despite posting the highest improvement among peers. Airtel posted a service quality score of 65.45percent last year, up from 52 percent the previous year.

The regulator has set an 80 percent service quality compliance threshold for mobile cellular service providers.

The CA report shows that Telkom Kenya was the second-worst service provider in the year to June 2021. The quality of service by Telkom Kenya dipped to 67.5 percent last year from 73 percent in 2020—marking the only slump among cellular service providers in 2021.

Kenya’s largest operator Safaricom retained its ranking as the best mobile service provider. In the year to June 2021, the telco posted a service quality score of 92.7 percent which is an improvement from 92 percent the previous year—making it the only compliant service provider.

`Inappropriate’ media content topped consumer complaints to the CA for 2021, turning the spotlight on media managers.

The regulator last year received a total of 1,623 complaints on diverse issues including billings, illegal surveillance, service interruption, false advertising, privacy breaches, and service quality among others but `inappropriate’ content was dominant—accounting for about three-quarters of the protests filed.

“A significant proportion of the complaints related to broadcasting content (74.4 percent)” the CA said.

Satisfying CA score is critical since telcos breaching requirements on the quality of calls and other service as a result of omission on their part risk a fine of up to 0.2 percent of their revenues, which could run into hundreds of millions.

The assessment is based on how an operator performs on eight key parameters as picked up in different parts of the country.

The eight include the call set-up time – the period between end of dialling of a telephone call and start of voice or data transmission; completion of calls – the number of calls completed on a network satisfactorily compared to the total number of call attempts made by callers; call set-up success rate – the number of attempts to make a call that result in a connection to the dialed number; speech quality – clarity; drop call rates – a phone call terminated by the network unexpectedly on technicality.