The Ugandan Consumer Protection Association (UCPA) has called for phone operators to bill customers by the second and not by the minute. Telephone calls in Uganda are more expensive because companies bill per minute and not per second.In Kenya, Sudan and South Africa, phone users can choose to be billed per second.

"If you make a call on a Mango line for one minute and 10 seconds, you pay for one minute and 15 seconds. If you make it on an MTN line for one minute and one second, you pay for two minutes," said Sam Watasa, an executive director of the UCPA. "We believe they should be changed, strongly so."

Calls are also made expensive by high interconnect charges - the cost attributed to calling another network. The three operators are renegotiating their interconnect agreements, Jackie Namara, Celtel marketing operations manager, said, a move which should bring call charges down.An agreement on this is likely to be reached in the first quarter of this year.Namara said that Uganda has some of the cheapest rates in the region, but admitted that it is standard practice in Kenya, Sudan and South Africa to bill per second. She added that billing per second can make the minute more expensive.

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