Airtel has slashed its cross-network call charges by 50 per cent in a bid to shore up its subscriber numbers in a market currently controlled by Safaricom.
This makes Airtel’s voice tariff the cheapest compared to other players in the Kenyan market.
Chief executive Prasanta Das Sarmas said subscribers will spend Sh2 per minute down from Sh4 on calls to other networks.
“We expect this reduction to supplement our data products and further push our market share above the current 19.7 per cent,” Das Sarmas said.
Safaricom charges Sh4 on-net and off-net during the day and Sh2 on-net and off-net at night while Telkom charges between Sh2 and Sh3 per minute to other networks depending on their tarrifs.
In the last six months, Airtel gained 2.08 million new subscribers. It received 984,745 in the second quarter and 1.1 million new subscribers in the third quarter ending March 2018 eating into the pie of market leader Safaricom and Telkom Kenya. The operator currently has 8.68 million subscribers while Telkom has 3.79 million subscribers.
Though it retained position one as a market leader, Safaricom’s market share has dipped by 2.12 million subscribers in the last two quarters to control 67 per cent of the market or about 29.54 million subscribers as per latest Communication Authority data.
Airtel’s announcement follows a 44 per cent increase in its Voice traffic to 3.6 billion minutes from 2.5 billion minutes as reported in the third quarter report. This pushed its voice traffic market share to 28.7 per cent, a 6.7 per cent growth.
Das Sarmas denied to comment on CA’s study which recommends that Safaricom be declared a dominant player saying the firm will go by any decision made by the regulator.
The price cut comes on the backdrop of a recent study commissioned by the CA that recommends retail price interventions in the telcos sector.
It further proposes Mobile Termination Rates, tower sharing and national roaming among telecommunication service providers to prevent abuse of dominance.
CA believes adopting the study will foster a competitive market, provide more choices to consumers and increase consumer welfare through the provision of affordable services.