A group of Kenyan tech enthusiasts led by Philip Musyoki, a local techie are petitioning Kenya’s largest telco Safaricom to remove a 20 MB cap on a data bundle transfers program dubbed ‘Sambaza Bundle’.
Over 105 supporters have already signed the petition on Change.org, an online site for petitions. 95 more are yet to sign.
According to the group, the new limits affect normal users who normally transfer data bundles between different SIM cards in their devices.
“I urge Safaricom to rethink this decision and quickly reverse it,” wrote Musyoki in the petition. “We are also appealing to the Communications Authority of Kenya to study the data bundle pricing and aggressively put regulatory measures on this business so as to protect customers against noncompetitive business practices from the dominant market player.”
The petition also decried the short periods the telco has put as the sel-by data of its data bundles. The concerned say the ‘expiry’ of purchase data bundles is a usually unreasonably short period determined solely by the operator. They called for regulation.
Others joked that the firm might soon cap on what consumers use on voice. The petitoner’s major concern is that the firm is bullying its customers as it never informs them on its decisions.
“I have just realized that Sambaza Bundle has been capped to 20MB per day, and you can only sambaza 10MB in a single transaction – do that twice and the day is closed,” said one of the complainants on Skunkworks, an email newsletter for techies in Kenya. “Now, I have close to 1GB on my modem and I wanted to sambaza about 200MB to my phone. Three attempts and I am getting this strange error, only to call Safaricom Customer Care and be shocked with the news.”
The complainant waa angered that Safaricom has no right of way over his bundles.”Once I buy 1.5GB data bundle from Safaricom, what business does it still have in deciding whether I can use it on that SIM card or Sambaza it to others?” he quiped. “Well, looks like Sambaza was a privilege that Safaricom could withdraw at any time? I did not read the T&Cs, but it doesn’t seem right, even if people have been doing business with data bundles. Once you’ve paid for the bundles, you should be left alone, no?”
Though once popular among the youth and Kenya elite for disrupting mobile telcommunication services with cheapers SIM Packs and calling rates against its then competitors KenCell (later Celltell then Zain then Airtel), and later for its globally popular mobile money service M-PESA, Safaricom is steadily losing the grip of the masses due to its dictatorial business tendencies according to complainants citing the firm’s stopping of unlimited internet and near stopping of Karibu PostPay services as dictatorial.
Safaricom and Airtel are now locked up in a heated competition over data and SMS packages. Airtel’s recent launch of unliminet led to the giant telco slashing its prices suddenly to retain its users. Airtel has also been on the forefront of pushing for dual SIM phones in the country so that people use Safaricom for M-PESA and use Airtel for voice, SMS and data. We are happy to be consumers at this time and age!