Monday, December 20, 2010

Safaricom to review its SMS charges

Currently, the four operators — Safaricom, Orange, Airtel Kenya and Yu — have an arrangement for Sh2 as interconnection rates for short messages. Photo/FILE

Currently, the four operators — Safaricom, Orange, Airtel Kenya and Yu — have an arrangement for Sh2 as interconnection rates for short messages. Photo/FILE 

By NATION REPORTER

Safaricom has hinted at review of its short message service rates once all operators settle on new interconnect rates.

The firm’s chief executive officer Bob Collymore said in a media briefing on Monday that the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) and operators were in discussions to reduce interconnect rates for SMS.

This, Mr Collymore said, could see SMS rates come down, once the discussions are complete.

“SMS pricing is still high, though we are addressing this,” he said during an event to award its loyal agents and PostPay customers.

Currently, the four operators — Safaricom, Orange, Airtel Kenya and Yu — have an arrangement for Sh2 as interconnection rates for short messages.

Under its ‘Masaa ya SMS’ scheme, Safaricom subscribers are charged depending on what SMS bundle one selects.

For example a bundle of 100 SMS is available at Sh20. Those who do not subscribe to the service are charged Sh3.50 per SMS.

Telkom Kenya levies Sh1 for on-net short message and Sh2 for off-net SMS, while Airtel charges a flat rate of Sh1 per message across networks and Yu 50 cents within the network and Sh1 to other networks.

In August, CCK slashed mobile voice interconnection charges by half from Sh4.42 to Sh2.21, which led to a vicious fight for mobile phone subscribers.

The cost of voice calls has fallen by 50 per cent to between Sh2 and Sh3 per minute.

In an earlier interview, CCK director-general Charles Njoroge said he considered the wholesale termination rate of Sh2 per SMS negotiated by the operators extremely high.

He had in September directed that all operators to renegotiate lower mobile and fixed SMS termination rates and file the new rates with the commission within three months.

Elsewhere, Safaricom has increased daily transaction limits for its money transfer platform M-Pesa to Sh140,000, which is divided into two transactions per day.

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