11 January 2013

Kenya: Over 2.3 Million Mobile Users Disconnected

Mobile operators have suspended over 2.3 million lines on their networks that are not registered as they move to deter any new illegal connections. The process began last week after the expiry of the December 31 deadline.

Safaricom said it had cut off 1.2 million users by yesterday afternoon. By Wednesday, Airtel said it had disconnected services for 324,033 subscribers while Essar Telecom reported to have suspended approximately 323,000 lines. Telkom Kenya has cut off 500,000 lines.

Operators are now focusing efforts to compulsory registration of new lines and continuing awareness to existing subscribers. Safaricom said it has spent over Sh100 million in publicity and awareness about Sim card registration.

Chief executive Bob Collymore said the efforts are paying off as it has registered 500,000 lines this month alone. Airtel on Wednesday said it had made it mandatory that all its new Sim cards are registered before being used on the network

"We are implementing the directive from CCK to suspend unregistered lines and we will continue to do so until all existing unregistered lines are cleared," Airtel Kenya managing director Shivan Bhargava said. Airtel has introduced a self-registration via short-code procedure.

However, Essar Telecom has asked for an extension of the deadline. The over 2 million lines suspended are out of the 6.1 being targeted for not complying with the amended Kenya Communications act.

Statistics released by the Communication Communication of Kenya at the end of last year showed Safaricom was set to switchoff the highest number of subscribers 2.9 million while Airtel had 822 526 unregistered lines. Essar and Orange had the biggest proportion of unregistered lines (in relation to their subscriber base) of had 1.13 million and 1.2 million respectively.

The Act stipulates a conviction to a fine not exceeding Sh300000, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, or to both for failure to register. However, the guidelines on how to carry out the registration process were yet to be gazetted by end of last week (expected today).

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