CA Urges Carriers to Serve Low-income Areas as Kenyans with Mobile Phones Hit 61.5 Percent

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Kenya ICT regulator, the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has asked mobile carriers to erect more masts and networks boosters in areas with challenging terrains, including those with hills and valleys, to heighten their quality of service. The development would help address a series of complaints of dropped calls and weak signals in such areas.

This is not the first time that such the CA has made such calls considering it tasks operators to ensure the quality of service is exemplary at all times; else, they are liable to fines.

The call was made by the CA’s interim Director General Mercy Wanjau during the staging of the 18th ICT Consumer Forum. According to the DG, some residents have never really enjoyed excellent services, but that misfortune is tied to how operators serve their customers. The CA has been trying to push for increased access in remote and low-income areas. The concerns are, however, related to the costs and investments implied in reaching and serving remote and low-income Kenyans, as well as those linked to the characteristics of the populations in those areas.

High investments and operation budgets make the erection of network infrastructure in rural parts of the country a tough call because it would be unprofitable unless provided with cheaper solutions for providing service. Telkom Kenya and Loon have, for example, been exploring the use of high-flying balloons to beam signals to rural and underserved parts of the country.

Understandably, the inherent characteristics of the demand from people in affected regions are an obstacle to service delivery. The customers cannot command high purchasing power, they use the network sparingly and have seasonal income that would cut expected revenues that carriers expect to realize.

Either way, that is why the Universal Service Fund (USF) exists: to serve marginalized parts of the country, including Nyandarua County.

At the moment, about 99.7 percent of the population is covered by 2G signals. About 66.1 percent of the population has access to 3G. 61.5 percent of Kenyans have mobile phones.

“At the Authority, quality of service provided to consumers is very dear to our heart.  While we have a high mobile penetration of 109.2 percent in Kenya, The concerns for the quality of these services are still not satisfactory in some areas, Nyandarua county included,” Mrs Wanjau said during the Forum.