The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has approved two firms to maintain price comparisons on price comparisons websites in Uganda. The accredited firms are Ostosho Media Ltd and Addmaya Motion Pictures Ltd who will be in charge of developing and maintaining Price Comparison Websites (PCWs) for retail communication services for a period of one year. It is now regulatory best practice for regulators to accredit or support independent PCWs to enhance the availability of up to date, comparable, reliable and dynamic tariff information.
These companies will maintain websites to provide comprehensive and up-to-date sources for prices of various communication services and products. According the press release, the websites: www.price-check.co.ug and www.kompare.ug will be loaded with all the needed information that will enable consumers to compare prices of different service providers so that they can make informed decisions.
The inaugural PCWs are one-stop portals providing comparative pricing of different services such as prepaid and postpaid mobile voice, mobile broadband, fixed broadband, mobile value added, mobile financial, domestic and national courier rates, Pay-TV subscription rates, TV and radio advertising rate cards. Other services include consumer/user service reviews and ratings similar to hotel ratings, broadband speed tests, frequently asked questions on emergent services and industry news.
The commission will maintain the supervisory control of the sites through an accreditation scheme to provide assurance on accuracy of tariff information, accessibility for the visually impaired, data comprehensiveness and transparency. The UCC shall establish and oversee minimum guidance on site uptime and accessibility, pricing data accuracy, third party advertising, independent reviews, service ratings and ratings methodologies, user feedback and complaints.
Promoting consumer wellbeing
UCC aims to promote consumer wellbeing and stimulate market competition through the regulation of communication service rates and services. This mandate is premised on Section 5(1) (e) of the Communications Act 2013. Previously, UCC undertook retail price comparisons for select services and disseminated the same through print media. While the assessments have been well received by the customers, they deprive them of the flexibility offered by emergent online price calculators and comparison services. They are static and cannot be easily updated.