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UCC gives MTN up to 5pm July 12 to explain ‘new tariffs’


MTN Uganda’s CEO Wim Vanhelleputte and UCC ED Godfrey Mutabazi

Kampala, Uganda | JULIUS BUSINGE |  The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has written to the country’s largest telecom firm MTN, seeking clarification on the manner in which it set new tariffs for its over 10 million customers, without its approval.

In the letter, dated July 7, 2017, the UCC Executive Director, Godfrey Mutabazi says their directive was informed by several complaints that they were receiving from the company’s subscribers.  The commission gave MTN up to July 12 (by close of business) to have responded.

Mutabazi said that a preliminary assessment of the current pricing for the company’s retail services indicates there have been changes in retail services for both voice and data tariffs. UCC regulates telecommunication business in Uganda.

“These changes were never communicated to the commission prior to their implementation,” the letter reads in part.

Going forward, the commission directed the company to submit the most up to date schedule of retail pricing for all regulated services and products available on MTN platforms. The commission further demanded that the company provides a detailed justification for all the price changes for the past 12 months, for which the commission was not notified.

MTN’s new tariffs

UCC’s letter implies that current tariffs for both data and voice have been adjusted. The Independent could not verify all these claims. But some subscribers for MTN social bundles said, the company’s data social bundle for a week that previously cost Shs 2,000, its tariff was increased by about 2.5%.

In addition, on June 15, the company announced that its mobile money charges were being adjusted. It said that sending between Shs250, 001 to Shs500, 000 to MTN registered users, the tariff would increase to Shs1, 600 up from Shs1, 400 while withdrawing the same amount from an agent would increase to Shs7, 000 up from Shs5,775. The other categories of amounts transacted were also adjusted accordingly. 

The UCC is mandated under section 5; 1 (e) of the Communications Act, 2013 to regulate rates with a view to protecting consumers from excessive tariffs and to prevent unfair competitive prices. The commission also uses the telecommunications (tariff and accounting) regulations No. 27 of 2005 which requires that all tariffs are filled with approval from the regulator.

Justina Ntabgoba – Kayemba, the senior manager for corporate affairs told The Independent on July 12 at 11:52am (East African Standard Time) that the company was preparing a response to the UCC directive and would issue a public statement on the matter soon.

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