In an effort to mediate the ongoing woes between Airtel Uganda and Uganda Telecom, the telecom regulator, the Uganda Communication Commission has come out to calm the situation. Yesterday, Airtel Uganda sent out a public notice in the Newpapers to announce to their customers that with effect from Friday 3rd February, 2017 they will no longer be able to make calls to UTL. In a letter from UCC to the two telecos that this blog as managed to get a copy, the commission has ordered Airtel Uganda to only suspend traffic from UTL to its network and allow its customers to call UTL customers.
This directive from the commission will subsist until the end of February to allow a smooth transition of subscribers. UCC also directed UTL to submit a detailed plan showing how it intends to settle Airtel Uganda’s debt before close of business Thursday 2nd February, 2017. UCC also expressed its deep concern how Uganda Telecom has persistently breached her obligation under the interconnect agreement with Airtel Uganda. In 2011, Airtel suspended calls to UTL over unpaid UGX 10 billion in interconnection fees. UTL later paid the debt. UCC has further directed UTL management to ensure that it forthwith pays its outstanding debt to Airtel so as to ensure that the existing agreement is not breached.
It should be noted that interconnect agreements between telecom operators in Uganda is a purely commercial matter and UCC has very little role to play in it. Interconnect agreements are freely negotiated and the rights accruing therefrom, exercised in accordance with the terms of the contract between the two parties. The regulator came into this to arbitrate since the termination of such agreement affects customers and thus affects integrity of the telecom sector in Uganda which they mandated to oversee by law.