Saturday, February 26, 2011

Bharti Airtel Kenya Feelanga Free Offer

The introduction of Airtel Kenya Feelanga Free offer has generated mixed reactions from the telecommunications sector in Kenya. After the communications commission of Kenya reduced the interconnectivity charges, the mobile phone subscribers in Kenya have enjoyed reduced calling rates but it was never anticipated that competition in the sector would be so immense that calling rates will be reduced to as low as 1 Kenyan shilling per minute like the Airtel Kenya Feelanga Free offer. Airtel Kenya Feelanga Free offer is however not clearly understood even by the industry regulator CCK. Details are now emerging that Bharti Airtel Kenya failed to make full disclosure about the offer which allows subscribers to spend Sh1 per minute on on-net voice calls. 
The industry regulator CCK argues that Airtel had misled subscribers to believe that Feelanga Free offer was a permanent tariff, while it was just an offer. On the same point, CCK has issued instructions to Airtel to publicly clarify the correct position about Airtel Kenya Feelanga Free offer. Looking at the subscriber’s perception of Airtel Kenya Feelanga Free offer, it is seen as a permanent tariff rather than an offer. CCK has also indicated that Airtel confirmed that Feelanga Free was indeed an offer that started from January 13. Airtel was further instructed to comply with the promotional guidelines as provided in the Kenya Information and Communications (Tariff) Regulation, 2010.

The Kenya information and communication tariff regulations requires an operator to provide CCK with information on promotions indicating clearly the duration and also provide subscribers full disclosures of the promotion. If an operator fails to meet these guidelines, the operator could have the promotion discontinued and non-compliance that qualifies as an offence could attract Sh1 million fine or a three-year prison term on conviction.

Since Airtel Kenya Feelanga Free offer was started other mobile service providers issued complains to CCK. They included Safaricom, Telkom Kenya and other bodies arguing that the prices were unhealthy for the industry and the country’s economy. While other service providers wanted CCK to fix prices so that a minimum rate per minute could be implemented, their offer was turned down by CCK adding that they will not fix prices.

Due to competition, mobile service providers have experienced reduction of their revenues especially from voice calls forcing them to venture into other revenue generating opportunities like data. Safaricom which is the industry’s biggest company by market share (number of subscribers), is currently the only provider with 3G services available to subscribers, Airtel Kenya is expected to roll out 3G services soon with O range Kenya acquiring the same license. Generally technology in Africa is becoming the latest venture for business firms.

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