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Gov’t to introduce national roaming as rural areas struggle with network

FILE PHOTO: UCC

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Government is in final stages of establishing national roaming guidelines that will enable telecom companies to fix mobile phone connectivity issues countrywide.

National roaming refers to agreements among operators to use each other’s network to provide services in geographic areas where they have no coverage.

For instance, MTN will be expected provide signal coverage to UTL subscribers or any other network that isn’t covered by their service providers.

According to the guidelines, it will be a licensing condition for all telecoms to roam nationally and reduce on areas that don’t have networks.

The Information Communications Technology Ministry Permanent Secretary, Vincent Bagire, says under the proposals they are looking at aspects of access and affordability.

He says that it will be a precondition for any telecom company to do national roaming.  He says people who operate in bordering areas like in Busia and Malaba operate on Safaricom yet they are in Uganda.

Bagire says there could be costs involved but minimal costs. He was appearing before the ICT Committee of parliament to respond to concerns in the sector.

Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) says the guidelines are in their final stages before they can be approved.

Fred Otunnu, the Cooperate Affairs Director-UCC, says several areas in the country especially places with a lot of hills and mountains among others still face challenges of network and it is hoped that the new guidelines will solve this problem through national roaming.

According to Otunnu, telecom coverage in the country will be adequate after the implementation of the guidelines.

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