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Parliament tasks telecom operators on improved tariffs, network coverage

Parliament’s ICT Committee and National Guidance meeting National Telecommunication Operators. URN photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Parliament’s Committee on Information Communication Technology and National Guidance on Monday tasked the National Telecommunication Operators, MTN and Airtel to improve on their network coverage and sensitize subscribers about the their tariffs.

It follows a petition to Parliament by six concerned subscribers in November 2021. The petitioners cited discomfort against costly charges on dropped calls, voice calls, data bundles, short message services-SMS, and mobile money transactions being incurred by telecom service end-users.

Led by Bashir Kazibwe Mbaziira, the Kawempe South Member of Parliament, the petitioners accuse the operators of rendering poor and costly services to over 10 million users in Uganda.

Mbaziira explained that their findings indicate that upon loading data bundles for usage, the consumers have on numerous occasions received data that is not commensurate to the tariff plan or money paid.

The legislator further explained that the operators levy exorbitant charges on sending or receiving money across two different telecom companies, specifically from MTN to Airtel that is consequently costly for the users which reflects double taxation.

Joyce Bagala, the Mityana District Woman representative queried why telecom networks continue to fluctuate in many parts of the country citing Nakibanga Parish and Banda sub-county, where her voters are deprived of access to vital connections and mobile money transactions in her constituency.

Meanwhile, Anna Mary Tumwine, the Ntoroko District Woman representative says districts at DRC-Uganda, Kenya-Uganda and Uganda South Sudan international borderlines continue to experience frustrating network fluctuations.

The lawmakers raised concern over rampant unsolicited messages that are costly to telecom users, mobile money transfers that do not reach intended recipients, unregistered simcards and uncontrolled fraudulent calls from suspected criminals.

But Andrew Rugamba, the Airtel Acting Managing Director dismissed the complaint against the network levying exorbitant charges on mobile internet. He argued that each customer gets what they have subscribed for as audited by the regulator, Uganda Communications Commission-UCC.

Whereas on improvement of network coverage, Wim Vanhelleputte, the MTN Chief Executive Officer says the network is building 4,000 towers from current 2,500 within the next three years to ensure all Ugandans are well connected.

The Deputy Chairperson of the Committee, Igeme Nathan Nabeta, who also doubles as the Jinja South Division East MP said they will continue their investigations by visitibng the facilities of the telecom operators to understand and appreciate how they work.

The main telecom operators licensed by the Ugandan Communications Commission in Uganda include MTN, Airtel, Lyca Mobile and Uganda Telecommunication Network-UTL among others.

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