New entrant Orange urges UCC to allow number portability in Uganda


New entrant Orange (which bought HITS Telecom) has urged the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) to permit the use of number-portability. Market newcomers like Orange would obviously gain from its introduction as it would allow existing subscribers to migrate to their service without changing their number.

Edouard Blondeau, the Orange Telecom interconnect manager, said it would free subscribers from the burden of carrying several mobile phones with numbers from various operators.

Patrick Masambu, the UCC executive director, assured industry players they would consider the issue, adding that an earlier study by the regulator had recommended the service be implemented after the sector had attained 10 million telephone users. "We have a provision for number-portability. This service can even be offered by a third party," Masambu said, adding that operators were aware of this.

This was during the release of a report: Telecom interconnection, retail costing and pricing in Uganda by PricewaterhouseCoopers at the Kampala Serena Hotel last week. The service was introduced to promote competition in the heavily monopolised telecom sector in the earlier days of the industry. However, the audit firm said there was no need for urgency to introduce the service in the country yet.

Meanwhile, Masambu said the telecom industry had developed greatly in the past few years, which had benefited subscribers. He said Internet users had increased to 2.5 million, while mobile Internet accounts had reached 220,000 and fixed internet subscription was at 22,000. He said mobile telephone subscribers were over nine million, while fixed lines had increased to 168,481. Masambu said telephone penetration level in the country was about 30 lines per 100 inhabitants.

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