Explained: How telecom companies operate in Uganda to provide better services

Major service providers in Uganda are regulated by the UCC (Uganda Communications Commission) to ensure that they operate in line with set up regulations and meet the standards of operating at the same time to best satisfy customers’ needs. However, over time the criticism by the public on how telecom companies operate in Uganda has built with complaints varying from poor signal quality to high rates for different services.

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UCC not only works as a regulator or as some people may call it “the policeman of communication in Uganda”. It also works tirelessly to make sure that telecom companies provide the best services that generate the value for which they are charged. There have been complaints in the past about how these companies have continuously increased their rates and yet Ugandans still don’t have access to quality services in some areas of the country.

UCC works tirelessly to regulate how telecom companies operate in Uganda

Speaking on NBS’ Spotlight show, the Executive Director of UCC Irene Ssewankambo explained that the quality of services can be affected by coverage in the situation. When a telecom company does not have wide coverage in some areas, people will experience poor signals.

She further explained that infrastructure like buildings could also affect the reach of signals to customers especially in urban areas where it is common to find tall buildings. “Buildings cut off signal hence phones cannot communicate with the network.”

“Another factor that could be attributed to the poor signals is the varying quality of phones where some can easily pick signals compared to others. In other words, phones of a lower quality require a stronger signal to operate, once it is weak they will not be able to communicate with the network,” she said.

However, most of the factors that result in the poor services are out of the consumers’ hands which leaves may wondering what UCC and telecom operators are doing to address the current challenges and see to it that Ugandans get value for their money.

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As part of its duties, UCC works to ensure that how telecom companies operate in Uganda meets operating standards. The government body is now focused on empowering the public about how service providers work through an app that is coming soon where the average Ugandan will be able to monitor these companies and the quality of their services said the UCC Executive Director.

Uganda currently has 33 telecom companies operating in Uganda with about 2 dominating the majority of the market share. It is believed that how telecom companies operate in Uganda with this kind of competition enables the exploitation of consumers to some extent and at the same time leaves other telecom companies out of business.

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Also speaking on NBS’ Spotlight show, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of ICT Vincent Bagiire said, “In respect to listing, the Capital Markets Authority is finalizing the details in regards to listing. It’s one of the terms and conditions for the licenses given to MTN and Airtel. It is important for Ugandans to have a say in the operations of these companies and that listing will be concluded in the 2 to 3 years on the stock exchange.”

The ability of the public to buy shares into these telecommunications companies will in one way regulate the competition since they will have the means to influence the way the companies operate making the services more favourable and moving away from consumer exploitation that some of them have been accused of.

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