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Telcos Change Tack In Fight For Data Customers, Offer Larger Internet Bundles For Same Price

Telecommunication firms recently hiked the cost of Internet as well as that of sending text messages and making voice calls.

This was due to an increase in excise duty on these services from 10 per cent to 15 per cent and the introduction of a 10 per cent levy on data by the Finance Act.

he three mobile service providers – Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom Kenya – increased their charges by just a few cents but the fact that they did not absorb the cost could be an indicator that cutting prices is no longer the key strategy in the fight for customers. Instead, they have opted to give subscribers more of what they are buying while retaining the current price levels. The firms are now trying to outdo each other on how much more data bundles they can give their customers without adjusting their prices. In addition to the increasing the amount of data that one gets at the same cost, customers now get WhatsApp services for free even when their data bundle is depleted – and even free access to Facebook and Twitter.

For instance, for Sh1,000, a subscriber can buy a 10-gigabyte (GB) monthly bundle on Airtel compared to 6GB previously. On Safaricom, a similar amount will buy a 5GB monthly bundle, up from 3GB, while Sh1,499 will buy one a 10GB bundle on Telkom Kenya compared to 4GB previously. “(The) latest offering of more data and free WhatsApp will ensure that customers receive more data at the same rates as before,” said Airtel Kenya Managing Director Prasanta Das Sarma.

“Access to the Internet has become universal and essential for all people… offering affordable and quality Internet access is key to enabling customers achieve more in their personal and business development.” Gone down Despite the additional offers that should ordinarily excite subscribers, the level of satisfaction with the three mobile service providers has gone down over the last one year. According to a customer feedback survey by research firm M-Survey, which gauges the level of satisfaction across different industries, mobile subscribers reported a decline in the level of satisfaction from the three operators. Subscribers gave the industry an average net promoter score (NPS) of 15 in the third quarter of this year, a substantial drop form 23 in the first quarter of 2018. The score goes up and down, depending on the sentiments of the subscribers surveyed. Airtel had the best rating with a score of 28 in the third quarter but a major drop from 37 in the second quarter. Safaricom posted the poorest score of 13, consistently declining from 23 at the beginning of the year and 17 in the second quarter.

Telkom Kenya also saw a drop in rating among its customers, going down to an NPS score of 16 in the quarter to September from 36 in the first quarter of this year. “Airtel, despite having the biggest drop in NPS according to customers, continues to have the best experience in the industry, driven by the rates on the network,” said M-Survey in its report. “On the other hand, 40 per cent of Safaricom’s detractors (frustrated users) cite the cost of voice and Internet as the main reason for drawback of the provider. This is the biggest reason for detraction from Safaricom customers.” – Standard Digital

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