TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Kenya Telecoms Regulator to Allow Internet Phone

Kenya Telecoms Regulator to Allow Internet Phone

George Obulutsa (
Wed, 10 Aug 2005 12:31:22 -0500

By George Obulutsa

Kenya's telecoms regulator on Wednesday said it would this week permit
telecoms operators to provide call services over the Internet, in
order to lower high phone costs and expand telephone services to the
rural areas.

Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) Director-General John Waweru
said the regulator will place a notice in Kenya's official publication
on Friday allowing licensed Internet service providers to transmit
phone calls using the Internet -- or Voice over Internet Protocol

"As a further step toward liberalization, the commission has
introduced the provision of Voice over Internet Protocol," Waweru told
reporters at a news conference. "We expect that the introduction of
VoIP is going to increase the teledensity, particularly in the rural

The regulator said that the notice would give guidelines to licensed
service providers on how to run the Internet calls.

The new service would also reduce calling costs locally and
internationally, but that would depend on how the companies involved
adopt it, Waweru said.

Industry players had accused Kenya's only fixed line provider, Telkom
Kenya, of interfering with companies that attempted to provide
Internet phone services long after its monopoly ended in June 2004.

"It's the reason why these guidelines have been issued -- to remove
the conflict. With this guidelines they (Telkom Kenya and service
providers) will now be allowed to negotiate," Waweru said.

Telecoms industry experts say they expect the cost of making calls to
fall with the introduction of Internet calls.

While hailed for reducing calling costs, experts say that using the
Internet to transmit phone calls is open to eavesdropping when done on
unencrypted connections.

Kenya is one of the east African countries hoping to connect to a
fibre optic cable running under the sea from Djibouti to South
Africa. Waweru said that he hoped the completion of the cable
connection in early 2007 would reduce Internet costs by diverting
traffic from terrestrial satellites heavily used to transmit data out
of Kenya.

"At that time, I think the cost of bandwidth will be affordable, and
even Voice over Internet Protocol will be even better and the prices
will be better," he said. )

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.

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