MTN, Airtel Face Sanctions for Cheating Customers


price geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 200%;”>According to UCC Director in charge of technology, what is ed Patrick Mwesigwa, the ICT Ministry is expected to come up with a Bill spelling out tough penalties including sanctions against the telecoms whose bogus transactions have seen customers lose billions of shillings in double charges, unsolicited messages and incomplete telephone calls.

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Mwesigwa made the remarks at Parliament on Tuesday, soothing hearts of outraged customers who continue to fall victim to the giant telecoms.

MPs said the accused telecoms should face heavy fines in the range of billions of shillings as a disciplinary measure to curb the vice.

UCC, which is the regulator of the communications sector in Uganda, has in recent months come under fire for looking on idly as customers bear the brunt of cheating telecoms particularly Airtel and MTN Uganda.

Under the Uganda Communications Act 2013, UCC is mandated to promote the interests of consumers and operators as regards the quality of communications services and equipment.

UCC recently carried out a Quality of Service (QoS) performance exercise on the five operational Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) networks in Uganda: Airtel Uganda Limited, MTN Uganda Limited, Uganda Telecom Limited (utl), Orange Uganda Limited and Warid Telecom Uganda Limited.

Review of Complaints Received

Consumers of communication services when dissatisfied with a service are required to first lodge complaints with their respective service providers.

Outgoing Airtel boss,

Where a consumer remains dissatisfied, they then can lodge complaints with UCC. The statistics used in the UCC report represent second level complaints to UCC. However, the figures included some first level complaints from consumers who claim inability to access their service providers.

During the period under review, 77.8 percent of the total complaints received were resolved by the respective service providers, while 22.2 percent are still pending either completion of investigations or response from the service providers.


There are complaints regarding presumed over charging for services or excessive deduction of credits, refunds or bill adjustments. It comprises the dropped balance, inappropriate billing, non-crediting of account, and non delivery of service paid for, multiple SMS and undelivered SMS.

Consumers are also struggling with unsolicited text messages where a specific amount of money is forcibly charged from their airtime.

Inaccessibility of lines and other services, general network quality, and nonchalant attitude of call agents; unwanted calls to consumers by the service providers usually promoting a particular product/service; hectic mobile money transactions for different telecom operators; erratic internet services and subscribers not getting the agreed speed and bandwidth are other reasons Ugandans are frustrated with telecoms.

Some subscribers are being disconnected from using internet service prior to expiration of validity days.

Customers further complain that misleading adverts regarding advertisements that are dubious, untruthful and deceitful such as promised incentives of free SMS, free calls, extra credit on recharge continue to be broadcast on radio stations and printed in newspapers.


According to UCC Executive Director, Godfrey Mutabazi, the highest number of complaints registered in the period under review was on billing issues.

In the quarter under review, the highest number of complaints were registered in the month of November especially against Airtel.

While a significant number of complaints were resolved, some complaints remain pending.

While Airtel registered the highest number of complaints received in most categories, MTN and Orange registered a significant number of complaints in the period under review.

However, Rami Farah, MTN Uganda’s Chief Technical Officer, recently said “MTN Uganda is ahead of target on its rollout plans and nearly all of the planned 406 network sites earmarked for upgrade by end of 2013 have been completed.”

MTN further claims that over the last two years, it has made “major investments to its data infrastructure in Uganda, expanded the mobile distribution foot print, and greatly enhanced the mobile core, radio capacity and Network infrastructure.”

From December 16-24, 2013, the Commission carried out measurements of Quality of Service (QoS) on the five GSM networks in Uganda in Kampala.

This exercise was conducted by making on net test calls during the busy hours of the day between two subscriber numbers while driving around Kampala Central Business District and the surrounding suburban areas.

It was discovered that internal network deficiencies of, poor radio resource planning, interference, inadequate network coverage and delays in responding to network outages as well as ineffective power back up systems are the major causes of network failures.

The network operators have also reported increased cases of vandalism which compromise the networks’ ability to provide quality services to their subscribers especially in the western and central regions. These regions experienced the highest incidences of fibre cuts and battery and fuel thefts that sometimes lead to several hours’ network outage.

UCC said while it has instituted punitive measures against the failure to achieve the set limits, an appeal is made for the public/communities to increase vigilance in order to protect communication infrastructure against perpetrators of these acts of vandalism within their communities so as to protect the quality of service that they require from the network operators.


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