Safaricom has significantly reduced rates for its monthly packages of bundled minutes, mobile data and SMS by nearly five percent. The move is seen as part of the telco’s strategy to step up market dominance amid stiff competition from its rival Airtel.
Safaricom has brought down the cost of the 1,000 minutes – that is bundled with 15 Gigabyte (GB) of mobile data and 2,000 SMS – by 4.7 percent to Sh2,000. This is the highest reduction for five of its packages that last for a month.
Safaricom’s rival Airtel offers customers 700 minutes, mobile data of 7GB and 2000 SMS every month for Sh1,050, while Telkom Kenya’s subscribers get 12 GB of mobile data and free WhatsApp per month for Sh1,000.
Safaricom’s tariff reviews come at a time Airtel has chipped into its command of the voice market and increased its share to a record high, driving down that of the market leader to a two-year low.
Safaricom’s new rates for the bundled minutes, mobile data and SMS offer the telco a major boost in its pricing war with Airtel as the duo seek to grow their customer numbers and revenues.
“By consolidating our monthly plans, we seek to simplify our product offering while enabling our customers to enjoy a digital lifestyle in an affordable manner,” said Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Peter Ndegwa.
Industry data from the Communications Authority (CA) shows that customers spent 12.14 billion minutes on Safaricom’s network in the three months ended September, a 4.36 percent decline from 12.69 billion minutes in the three months ended June.
Airtel callers spent 6.36 billion minutes, a 3.8 percent rise from 6.13 billion minutes in the three months ended June while callers on Telkom Kenya talked for 370.57 million minutes from 341.4 million in June.
Safaricom had in July last year increased the cost of the bundled packages following a rise of excise tax on airtime and calls from 15 percent to 20 percent.
The cost of the monthly packages that offer customers 400 minutes with 5GB and 1,000 also dropped by 4.7 percent to Sh1,000.
The price of the package where customers get 1,500 minutes, 25 GB and 3,000 SMS also fell 4.7 percent to Sh3,000.
Safaricom’s bundled packages also offer customers free WhatsApp and YouTube for a month as the telco steps up efforts to woo more subscribers.
Safaricom is betting on the reduced rates to regain its share of the voice market as the telco seeks to pull further away from Airtel.
The telcos have been caught up in pricing wars for years, a battle that has seen customers benefit in the form of reduced charges for bundled packages and getting free minutes once they hit a target of specified credit per day.