Airtel Rwanda waives roaming charges

Airtel Rwanda is set to foot the roaming charges to provide its subscribers with affordable and cheaper calling rates.
Airtel head office in Kigali. The New Times / File.
Airtel head office in Kigali. The New Times / File.

Airtel Rwanda is set to foot the roaming charges to provide its subscribers with affordable and cheaper calling rates.

The decision follows a recent move by Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) to charge mobile phone users $22 cents (Rwf132.2) per minute on each call made outside Rwanda.

The new RURA guidelines have raised the cost of all incoming international calls.

Airtel’s Legal and Regulatory Manager, Brian Kirungi, said their subscribers will be able to call at local rates whenever they are in another country.

“Our clients…will not feel the charge, but we have to price our calls as per regulation,” he added.

According to RURA, there were legitimate concerns regarding quality of service, key operational statistics for telecommunications, fair competition, transit and roaming traffic practices.

RURA further highlights issues pertaining to telecommunications and network traffic fraud in relation to international incoming electronic communication traffic in the country.

Moreover, the new guidelines enable RURA to ensure the generation of reliable statistics for all incoming international calls through systems that gauge incoming international traffic.

Indeed, operators did not bear the burden and instead transferred the extra costs to callers in form of roaming charges who find it expensive, making Rwanda the only country in the region to implement such guidelines.

Airtel has lowered all international calling rates joining Tigo Rwanda, which also has cheaper international calling rates.

Airtel Rwanda, a subsidiary of Indian telecommunications giant, Bharti Airtel, which set foot in the country in March this year, has compelled its competitors to lower their calling and data rates.

The operator maintains its one network rates with its subscribers across the continent and the rest of the world are able to enjoy cheaper calling rates.

Experts say that once RURA’s new guidelines are effected, this would give Airtel  the leverage to woo more subscribers on its network.

Alexis Kabeja, the Network Operations Manager at Airtel says the move has compelled them to quickly rollout their network to cover the whole country by the end of this year. Currently, the firm covers 20 of the country’s 30 districts.

Airtel has so far registered a total of 184,422 subscribers since its foray in March this year.  Leading operator, MTN Rwanda has a total of 3,229,672 million users while Tigo comes second with 1,741,603 million subscribers.

 

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