Telkom Kenya has revealed that the reason why it has been unable to compete Safaricom and rival operators due to the current mobile termination rates (MTR) and fixed voice termination rates (FTRs). Basically, the charges levied by telecoms operators for handling rivals’ calls on their network.
The telco has revealed that it pays over half of its revenues to Safaricom and rival operators as costs for handling its calls on their network.
The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) cut the charge to Sh0.12 per minute from the current Sh0.99 per minute after a six-year freeze, drawing legal action from Safaricom that earns the most from MTR due to its large voice market share of 68.9%.
Safaricom’s competitors Telkom and Airtel have strongly backed the regulator, arguing that the drop in MTR is long overdue. Telkom Kenya reckons that the reduction of MTRs and FTRs will promote competition in the market and lower calling rates for the benefit of consumers.
The head of public policy and regulatory affairs at Telkom Kenya, told the tribunal hearing the Safaricom suit against CA that the telco surrenders over 50% of its revenue to Safaricom.
“Telkom had previously raised concerns that over 50 percent of its mobile communications revenue is paid to other telecommunications operators in settling expenses associated with MTRs and FTRs costs,” Stellar Wawira, head of public policy and regulatory affairs at Telkom Kenya, said.
“I believe that CAs determination to reduce costs of MTRs and FTRs is in the interest of the consumers whom the CA has an obligation to protect.”
However, he did not provide figures to back the claims.
A smaller operator tends to pay more in mobile termination rates because its users are likely to spend more time on other networks than its own.
Airtel’s market share stood at 29% while Telkom Kenya had a two percent stake. The two firms remain in losses while Safaricom is the region’s most profitable firm with profits of Sh68 billion for the year to March.
The lower termination rates could benefit subscribers grappling with reduced spending power due to the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mobile operators recently adjusted the cost of calls to other networks to reflect the recent change in excise taxes.