Tuesday, October 22, 2019 - A Kenyan ICT practitioner and lawyer, Adrian Kamotho, has sued telecom operators, Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom Kenya over the expiry of data and loss of unused Internet bundles.

Also included in the suit are the Multimedia Appeals Tribunal and the regulator, Communications Authority.

Mr. Kamotho wants the three operators to be compelled to offer a service where customers can roll over unused data at no extra cost.

“That an order directing the respondents to enable active subscribers to roll over used data at all times,” says the court petition.

“That an order directing the respondents to enable consumers to transfer unused data to other users on the same network.”

Currently, operator’s data bundles have a daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly expiry periods and subscribers can only activate ‘expired’ data by buying new data of the similar package ahead of termination.

The petitioner cites a recent ruling in South Africa where the telecom regulator in February ordered operators to allow roll over of unused data.

Vodacom, which owns 35 percent of Safaricom, had announced that it will charge customers to roll over expiring data sparking an outrage from consumers.

The regulator in South Africa also ruled that operators should not charge out-of-bundle rates for data when it is depleted without the consumer’s permission.

 “The automatic switch of consumers whose bundles run out to out-of-bundle rates is fraudulent to the extent that consumers are unexpectedly thrust to forcible expenditure without being accorded an opportunity to give or decline consent,” said Mr. Kamotho.

“Enormous price gap between in-bundle and out-of-bundle is evidently exploitative and discriminatory.”

Mr. Kamotho wants the same implemented in Kenya and has petitioned the regulator to compel operators to seek subscribers’ consent before switching them to out-of-bundle rates.

Safaricom has a data manager where subscribers can only use the data they have subscribed instead of using airtime directly (out-of-bundle)

Data has become a major revenue stream for telecoms which has seen operators invest billions on fourth generation (4G) networks which gives users faster speeds.

Safaricom, which is the dominant telecom in Kenya with over 33 million subscribers, made Sh240.3 billion in sales in the year to March with data accounting for 19.5 percent of the revenue.


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