MPs of Uganda Give UCC Two Months to Crack Whip On Crafty Telecom Firms

Telecoms

The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has been given two months to crack the whip on telecom companies sending unsolicited messages to their customers. The ultimatum was issued by MPs on the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) committee during a meeting with UCC last week.

MPs Odonga Otto, Mariam Nalubega, Vicent Bagire and committee chairperson Paula Turyahikayo noted that sending unsolicited messages tantamount to "invasion of privacy."

"Telecom companies need to be regulated. Even at midnight they send messages about winning Boda Bodas or joining some kind of lottery. This is an invasion of privacy which can lead to law suits," Otto said.

Atiku Bernard (Ayivu) said networks of different service providers normally drop calls or suffer interruptions in the network, but don't fail to deliver unsolicited messages. The MPs want UCC to revoke licenses of repeat offenders saying the messages are used to defraud unsuspecting innocent customers.

According to the Executive Director of UCC, Godfrey Mutabazi, UCC is in the process of drafting new terms for service providers in an attempt to improve telecom services in the country. "We are equally concerned about this issue. We shall be meeting stakeholders next week and later on the public about changes into regulating telecom companies," Mutabazi said.

Mutabazi said UCC has imported quality of service and monitoring equipment to help monitor and enforce quality benchmarks like number of blocked and dropped calls.

As a member of the International Telecom Union, UCC has a set of minimum acceptable standards that telecom service providers adhere to. Mobile phone users have repeatedly complained about these messages by service providers in form of news alerts, lotteries or sales promotions. These messages sometimes lead to unexplained deductions of credit from mobile phone users. UCC is mandated to effectively regulate the communications sector in order to facilitate growth of communications services for sustainable development.