TELECOMS

STIFF COMPETITION TO DRIVE TELECOM CHARGES DOWN IN UGANDA

The licensing of two more telecommunication firms is set to unleash unprecedented competition as the five companies look to mop potential subscribers. Some industry players are already grumbling about the low cost of a licence the new entrants are paying, signaling the extent of the expected competition. They claim Hits Telecom didn't pay for its licence.

  But the Uganda Communications Commission's corporate affairs manager, Fred Otunnu, said: "Licensing guidelines require that when applying for a public infrastructure provision licence, you are required to pay an application processing fee of $2,500 (sh4.4m), one time initial fee of US$100,000 (sh176m) and an annual licence fee of $10,000 (sh17.6m). Hits telecom paid all these fees."

Last week, Saudi-based Hits Telecom announced it had been licensed to be a national telecom operator and was willing to splurge $150m (sh264b) in a roll-out that will see it running by November 2007.

Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi group Warid Telecom is waiting in the wings and expects to win its licence by the end of this month. The licensing follows the opening up of the market after the duopoly of MTN and uganda telecom ended in July last year. The other player is Celtel.

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