Telecommunications regulator, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), has reduced the mobile and SMS termination rates.
Notably, the mobile termination rate has dropped from Shs65 to Shs55 per minute for voice calls whiles SMS termination rate has also come down from Shs7 to Shs5.
Interconnection fees are charges between telecoms for hosting a call from another telecom network.
The mobile termination rate is otherwise known as the charge one telecom charges another for terminating calls on its network. In essence, this is the cost incurred when calling across networks, for instance, MTN to Airtel.
According to Ibrahim Bbosa, the UCC spokesperson, they cap interconnection rates and termination fees to bring down the cost of calling.
“When you regulate the wholesale price, you expect that the savings that operators make should be passed on by giving lower tariffs. But sometimes it is not the case,” he said, adding that the cost is expected to reduce further to Shs45 per minute next year.
While the cost to call across networks has been reduced, it is not a guarantee that telecoms will reduce the amount charged when calling a different network.
However, Mr Bbosa said that some telecoms could decide to keep the current charges while others might respond to industry dynamics.
Since our country’s telecom sector is largely controlled by MTN and Airtel, which share between themselves at least 90 per cent of the 23m subscribers, this regulation might act as a platform for new entrants to establish themselves thereby reducing on this exploitation.
Meanwhile, MTN charges Shs4 per second on and off-net calls while it charges Shs60 and Shs90 for on net and offnet SMSs, respectively.
Appropriately, Africell’s on net calls cost Shs4 per second while local calls to other networks cost Shs5 per second. SMS from Africell to Africell cost Shs50 while offnet SMSs cost Shs90.
Airtel also charges Shs4 per second for both on net and offnet calls within East Africa and Shs180 per minute.
By John Dalton Kigozi