27 January 2013

Uganda: Poor TelecomService - Commission Boss Faults Law

Kampala — The weak communications act coupled with the growing subscriber numbers have been faulted for the poor performance of the telecom operators.

Speaking on the sidelines of the launch of the 2rd Annual Communications Innovation Awards (AICA) in Kampala last week, Eng. Godfrey Mutabazi, ED Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) said that the current communications act is not strong enough to drive the industry.

"The content in the current law is still lacking. The British, American and even the Kenyan laws have moved on because they anticipated the future. That is where we should go and I hope it will be actualized soon," he said.

The survey by the regulator conducted between July and October 2012 showed the performance trends for dropped and blocked call rates - parameters set out by UCC were largely below average.

No network complied with UCC limits for dropped calls parameters which was at 2% in Kampala, Mukono and Gulu (Northern Uganda) while the highest registered dropped call rate was 9.63% from the UTL network in Mukono town near Kampala.

The performance went even lower when it came to blocked call rate. In Kampala, Mbarara, Mukono, Jinja, Gulu and Kasese no network complied with UCC limits and the highest registered blocked call rates were those of the UTL network at 31% in Mukono and 31.5% in Jinja town. The UCC limit parameter is at 2%.

The UCC parameter for successful call completion rate was at 99% and the networks performed better. The highest successful call completion rate, 99% was registered on UTL network in Masaka.

Mutabazi said, "The performance is still far below the standard. Its only Orange Telecom that came up better, the rest of the operators were below average."

Mutabazi also added that the increase in the subscriber numbers that have not been matched by improvement of infrastructure have also compounded the situation.

"This is where we now have issues of poor quality of service. Just two years ago, we had about 12 million subscribers, now we have 16 million. That load has come onto a network that has not expanded its infrastructure," Mutabazi added.

The report conducted in eight major towns also attributed the major cause of poor service to vandalism.

The UCC report states that MTN and Airtel networks reported several incidents of network vandalism from January 2012 to date, causing network outages in some towns.

"The MTN outage reported that they realized 543 hours across the country between July and October. Of these, 183 hours were lost due to fibre cuts by unknown individuals while 132 hours of MTN service delivery were affected by road works," the report reads in part.

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