By Mark Kawalya
The August House has thrown its weight behind the general consensus that telecom firms need to provide data and voice bundles at more pocket-friendly terms.
This follows the government’s stance that the general public needs to access reliable and affordable communication services that are critical in widening information communication technology penetration, which is a key accelerator of economic growth.
Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwe, while chairing the House last month, directed the Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) to start a discussion with telecoms about providing unlimited data and voice bundles that have no expiration cap.
“This issue of the expiry of data and voice bundles needs to be addressed. How do you tell me that bundles have expired? Technology has no expiry date. In many countries, one is only required to reactivate the bundle; it’s like money in your account; the bank tells you that your account has become dormant, it is then reactivated and you can access your money,” Tayebwa said.
In a similar directive, he asked UCC to work with telecoms on removing interconnection fees that create counterproductive monopolies, by making it expensive for users to make calls across other networks.
The discussion was initiated by the report of the Committee on ICT and National Guidance on a petition of Kawempe Division South constituents over unsatisfactory service delivery by telecoms and television service providers in the country.
The report was presented by Hon. Moses Magogo, the committee chairperson, and goes on to point out that Ugandans pay exorbitant rates to access data bundles, are subjected to unrealistic consumption terms, dropped calls, poor network connectivity, and the expiry of internet bundles.
The committee’s report recommended that the public be sensitized on the various data and voice bundles available and that telecoms should work towards providing more affordable data and voice packages.
“UCC should also enhance engagement with the telecommunication operators to develop and provide a broad range of bundles that will encourage customers to access internet and call subscriptions,” Magogo said.
This follows a recent move by telecom operators to provide more flexible data packages ranging from time bound-bound bundles and non-expiring bundles like Airtel’s Chillax Bundles, MTN’s Freedom Bundles and Smile Telecoms Forever Bundle.