Roaming traffic fell between January and March this year as Kenyans sought alternatives to the high cross-border calling rates offered by telecom players.
Communications Authority statistics released Monday indicate that usage of SIM cards issued in the country by Kenyans travelling abroad to make calls fell by 33.2 per cent in the period.
Text messages sent by travelling Kenyans on nationally issued SIM cards also fell by 36.4 per cent.
International calls and text messages originating from Kenya fell by 4.3 per cent and 7.4 per cent respectively.
This happened as roaming in traffic, which is generated by visitors to Kenya using foreign issued SIM cards, increased by over 35 per cent.
The authority attributes these trends to Kenyans adapting to high international calling rate regimes by swapping SIM cards while travelling or using other means of cross-border communication.
“The decline of international outgoing voice and SMS traffic could be attributed to the increased use of Internet applications such as WhatsApp and Skype which allow reliable exchange of multimedia messages and video calls respectively at a fair cost,” the Communications Authority said.
Overall, voice and SMS traffic fell marginally in that period, a fact the regulator attributed to the end of high-activity festive season.
East African countries intend to set-up a single network for the region that will eliminate the cross-border tariffs and reduce the cost of cross-border calls.
The number of mobile subscribers in the country increased from 30.7 million as at December 2013 to 31.2 by March 2014. Mobile network operator market share remained relatively unchanged.
Safaricom controlled 67.8 per cent of the market by subscription down from 67.9 per cent in December 2013. Rival yuMobile saw its market share drop to eight per cent from 8.5 per cent as its subscriber base declined by 3.5 per cent to 2.6 million.
By March, there were an estimated 21.7 million Internet users in the country, representing a 53.3 per cent penetration.
In broadcasting, the average weekly television viewership shot up 81.8 per cent to 654,500 during the period while radio listenership increased 19.9 per cent to 4.5 million.
The authority says this is partly attributable to viewership of English Premier League matches as well as radio competitions hosted during the period.