DEVELOPMENTS FROM THE COMMUNICATION AUTHORITY OF KENYA SINCE MARCH 2020

By Sidharth Shah,Angela Mukora,Rose Njeru Tuesday, July 21, 2020
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The Communication Authority of Kenya (the CA) has issued a number of public notices set to affect the ICT and telecommunications industry. Notably, the CA has moved to ease certain compliance requirements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has undoubtedly affected business operations globally. We briefly discuss the notices here and highlight the impact they may have on the Kenyan telecommunications sector.

Measures to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19 ICT Advisory Committee

The Cabinet Secretary for ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs established the COVID-19 ICT Advisory Committee (the Advisory Committee) through Gazette Notice No. 3236 of 2020 on 21 April 2020, The Advisory Committee is mandated to co-ordinate ICT specific responses to the pandemic. In particular, the Advisory Committee is required to create an environment that will foster ICT innovation and embrace technological solutions in the fight against COVID-19. To this end, the Advisory Committee has called for submissions from the public on local ICT solutions particularly in the health, economy, food, livelihoods and employment, logistics and transport, and security sectors. Members of the public have until the end of September 2020 to submit these solutions.

Establishment of the Advisory Committee will assist the country identify any gaps and challenges in the ICT industry which arise because of the pandemic. It may also spur innovation and create solutions to address these problems.

Simplified application procedure for type- acceptance

The pandemic has significantly increased the demand for digital health technology solutions and solutions for the digitisation of many businesses and services. To this end, the CA has expedited the application procedure for type-acceptance of certain communication and network equipment, including telephone terminal equipment, low power terminal, WiMAX terminal, multimedia decoders, call monitoring equipment, data equipment and satellite earth terminal. The expedited approval process will allow entities to introduce to the market the aforementioned equipment faster, in a bid to meet the increased demand of ICT solutions.

Fighting counterfeit products

The CA, in furtherance of its consumer protection mandate, has set up a Mobile Messaging Service to ascertain if a mobile handset is genuine or if it is a counterfeit. The free service is used by sending the International Mobile Equipment Identifier (IMEI) number as a text message, to the short code 1555, after which the CA responds with the details of the mobile handset that corresponds to the IMEI number. The IMEI number can be retrieved using the USSD *06#.

The verification platform will enhance the protection offered to consumers, as they can now avoid using poor quality counterfeit devices that pose a threat to personal health and national security.

Assessing the quality of service for broadcasting services and systems

The media and broadcasting industry is evolving rapidly owing to various technological advancements. Traditional broadcasters have to play alongside new media companies that utilize digital broadcasting methods to relay their content to the public. Accordingly, customers have been given access to premium-multi channeled broadcast content delivered through satellite, terrestrial, internet and cable networks. In light of this, the CA has developed a framework for the assessment of quality of service for broadcasting services and systems (QoS) and had called on the public to submit their comments on the proposed framework by 1 July 2020.

The QoS is likely to ensure that the broadcasting services and systems used by consumers meet a given level of performance, by providing mechanisms to measure and report performance requirements in customer service management and technical network performance, with the aim of enhancing the level of consumer satisfaction. We will discuss the content of the QoS framework in greater detail in a separate newsflash. 

Conclusion

The CA continues to play its part in encouraging and promoting innovation in ICT partly by eliminating red tape from its procedures, in a bid to meet the growing ICT demand in the country. Moreover, promoting the provision of high quality broadcasting services and systems in Kenya, and ensuring consumers are purchasing and using approved quality products, bolsters CA’s intention to protect consumers.