Telkom customers experience service outages as 723 masts shut down

File image of the Telkom Plaza. PHOTO | COURTESY

The country’s third largest telco operator, Telkom Kenya, has been marred by interruptions and customer complaints after claims that it failed to pay American Tower Corporation (ATC) Ksh.200 million in rental fees for 723 masts.

Ironically, Telkom Kenya initially owned the same masts and sold them to ATC in order to reduce cost of operations by leasing them back.

ATC is said to have switched off half the masts leased to Telkom; this tower blackout has now caused interruptions within the Telkom network.

However, according to Telkom Kenya CEO Mugo Kibati, the company is actively engaging all stakeholders to restore the impacted services as soon as possible.

He said that Telkom and its stakeholders are also reviewing the short to long term strategic imperatives that will improve and guarantee the provision of these services to its esteemed customers.

However, industry experts say that the government needs to ensure that Telkom does not go under since some critical government infrastructure is managed by the telco.

Industry expert Amit Vithlani opines: “The government needs to ensure the survival of Telkom because they run critical infrastructure such as the fibre optics. Also, looking at the fact that it was a government entity, it could be running another installations in defence.”

Further, Amit says that there could be deep-rooted, systemic problems at Telkom that the government needs to address before investing money into it.

“Looking at the fact that they sold the network towers and some of the land that they owned to revamp its network and that has not happened, this needs to be addressed before more money is put in,” he added.

This comes as the government is scouting for a strategic investor to bail out Telkom Kenya following the acquisition of the telco last year to reduce the risk of spying of critical government information.

The government is looking for Ksh.7.2 billion from national coffers to clear the telco’s debt.

The financial status of Telkom Kenya is still in the red even after the government bought back 60 per cent stake from Helios Investment group.

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Mugo Kibati Telkom Kenya American Tower Corporation

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