Safaricom PLC has lost its bid to block Canadian owned telco IRISTEL from its network. The two Telcos signed a contract that would see IRISTEL offer internet-based calls through its network.
Later, Safaricom sought to terminate the contract between the two on grounds that Iristel would engage in Sim-Boxing an interconnect bypass fraud, that providers use to disseminate international calls disguised as local by re-originating the foreign calls using local numbers to pay cheaper rates.
This is not the first time Safraiocm is reporting companies for sim-boxing, CA banned SIM boxing three years ago after Safaricom accused US firm Geonet Communications of illegally terminating international voice traffic on its network.
In the Appeal, Safaricom had said “The Interested Party (Iristel Kenya) to submit information/evidence in support of their purported local subscription and locally offered products which would necessitate local interconnection without the risk of SIM boxing,”
In a ruling by the Tribunal, the case was found to be unfair as it was ruled out that Iristel’s deals with other telcos had not attracted any concerns in the past. Safaricom had filed the appeal at the tribunal after raising its concerns with the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA which were rejected.
The regulator then ordered Safaricom to start and conclude interconnection negotiations with Iristel Kenya within six months which Safaricom did and went back to appeal to the tribunal.
Rosemary Kuria, the chair of the tribunal, said the appeal lacked merit and hence was dismissed. she added, that the appeal has been overtaken by events and the parties can therefore only be bound by the terms of the agreement.
Now that the deal has been ousted in court, are we safe to say we will be protected in the occurrence of sim boxing activities?
. Iristel uses Voice over IP technology to deliver communication services such as voice, fax SMS over the internet rather than the public switched telephone network which Safaricom and other local providers use.
International calls are relatively expensive and as the Internet access broadens, users have been keen to welcome any options that will see them save on their coins. For instance, the introduction of WhatsApp calls has made it easier for people to connect with their family and friends over voice and video calls at relatively cheaper rates.
A quick check on roaming calls rates between Tanzania and Kenya costs you Ksh 50 per minute while international calls to Canada, the USA, China and India have special bundles of Ksh 19 per minute.
Already in Kenya, Ambia App is offering similar services to users to call family and friends internationally with convenient roaming packages. For instance, a call via Ambia app from a loved one abroad will cost them around Ksh3 on the internet which is over 20 per cent cheaper than normal roaming.