Kenya mobile phone users enjoy near free calls
Mobile phone users in Kenya are enjoying near free calls, which are enabling people to talk more thus deepening mobile phone usage in the East African nation.
Several telecommunication companies in Kenya have come up with tariffs that allow users to call almost for free after paying a minimal fee.
The move, occasioned by stiffer competition and battle to increase subscribers, has made many Kenyans enjoy cheaper tariffs and extended talk time.
Thus, as mobile phone subscribers in other African countries grapple with high charges, Kenya, as with mobile money, is scoring another first with the near free calls tariffs. Kenyans call the entire day after paying as little as 0.05 U.S. dollars.
The near free bundles are slowly edging out per second and per minute tariffs that have been in use since mobile phone companies set up business in Kenya.
Kenya has four mobile companies namely Yu, Airtel, Safaricom and Orange. Data from Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) indicates that as at March, Safaricom had a market share of 65.3 percent, Airtel 15.3, Orange 10.6 and Yu 8.7.
However, leading in provision of near free call tariffs is Yu, operated by Essar Telecom. The operator has given its rivals a run for their money with the cheaper bundle, which made the company attract the largest number of subscribers in the last quarter ending March this year, according to CCK.
In terms of subscribers, Yu has over 2.6 million subscribers, having gained 14.5 percent subscriptions in the period January to March. On the other hand, Safaricom has 19.1 million subscribers having gained 2.1 percent subscriptions during the period. Airtel has 4.5 million subscribers having gained 4.9 percent while Orange 3.1 million subscribers after gaining 7.2 percent.
“The tremendous growth in new subscriptions by Essar Telecom could be attributed to increased promotional and special offers targeting the youth that were offered during the period,” noted CCK in the report released last month. Yu subscribers pay a fee of 0.05 dollars a day to make unlimited (free) calls on the network from 6am to 6pm local time (0300-1500GMT). The company, on the other hand, charges 0.03 dollars for off-net calls.
Joining Yu in offering near free call bundles to subscribers are Orange and Airtel. Orange has a tariff that allows subscribers to call specific numbers all day and night within its network after paying just 0.11 dollars.
The tariff named Holla was started in April and is targeting mainly the youth, who besides making free calls also enjoy free Facebook access.
The pre-paid customers further enjoy free on-net SMSs, 20 free off-net SMSs and 10 free MB of mobile data daily.