Thursday June 16 2011

Interconnection rates likely to be reviewed - UCC

By Walter Wafula

Making calls from one network to another could become cheaper by September, if the Uganda Communications Commission influences telecom operators to revise their current rates.

According to Mr David Ogong, the director, competition and corporate affairs at UCC, the commission is consulting telecommunication operators about the possibility of reducing the current interconnection rates further.

Interconnection rates are charges that a telecom company pays to others when callers make cross-network calls.

The rate currently stands at Shs131 per minute down from Shs180 last year. Despite the reduction, the current rate more than doubles Kenya’s Shs60 per call, making it the highest in the region.

“The Commission is also in the process of reviewing interconnection rates and we expect off-net rates to come downward,” Mr Ogong said at a press conference in Kampala on Tuesday.

The revision of the interconnect rate is among the key issues in the 2011 Retail Tariff Guideline for Voice Telephony Services under discussion between UCC and telecommunication operators.

Uganda has six major voice telecommunication service providers including; MTN, Airtel, Warid, Uganda Telecom, Orange and Smile Communications.

Stiff resistance
Last year the Commission faced stiff resistance from major operators MTN and Airtel when it moved to introduce lower interconnection tariffs for the industry in favour of consumers.

MTN sued the Commission for ‘overstepping’ its mandate but later withdrew the case to allow UCC to set Shs131 as the ceiling for interconnection rates in Uganda.

However, Mr Ogong was optimistic that; the telecommunications companies would respect the move based on preliminary discussions that have already taken place.

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