UCC Intervenes as Airtel Moves to Block UTL Calls

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The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has arbitrated and stopped Airtel’s move to block incoming and outgoing calls to Uganda Telecom Limited (UTL) effective February 3rd, saying it affects customers and operators whom the Commission must protect.

In a statement released on Monday evening, the UCC Executive Director, Eng. Godfrey Mutabazi said interconnection agreements between operators are purely a commercial matter, exercised in accordance with contracts signed.

He however notes that the Commission is concerned that termination of such agreements affects innocent customers, threatening the sector’s integrity.

“UCC directs Airtel to only suspend traffic from UTL to airtel and allow Airtel Customers call UTL customers until end of February 17th to allow a smooth transition of subscribers,” wrote Mutabaazi in the statement.

He tasked UTL to submit to UCC a comprehensive plan on how it intends to settle Airtel debts before February 2nd, a date which Airtel had set to start blocking the calls.

“We are Concerned that UTL has persistently breached her obligation under the interconnection agreement with Airtel. UTL is directed to ensure that it forthwith pays its outstanding debt to Airtel so the agreement is not defeated,” said Mutabaazi.

Airtel on Monday morning announced that they would block outgoing and incoming calls from UTL citing termination of their interconnection agreement in October 2015.

PC Tech understands that UTL owes Airtel over Shs 8billion arising from unpaid interconnect fees and leased line services offered for a period covering since 2013, a reason why the contract was terminated in the first place.

Addressing journalists on Monday evening, Patrick Kaboyo, the UTL board chairman described Airtel’s decision as unfortunate adding that UTL would be willing to engage in round table talks with Airtel to solve the issue so that customers are not hurt in the process.

“If they take that route, it will hurt and impact us as a business  . It will erode confidence of customers into our brand but we are willing to sit on a round table to solve it,” Kaboyo told journalists.

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