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Has UCC Closed Down Smile Telecom?

Smile Communication offices. Courtesy Photo

Smile Communication offices. Courtesy Photo

Tension has risen amongst customers and subscribers of Smile Telecom Uganda over alleged closure of the company by the regulator, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC)

A report by a Ugandan local newspaper on Sunday indicated that the telecom had been closed “because it is facing a number of financial challenges.”

The report further indicates that UCC Executive Director confirmed the closure of the company, adding that negotiations were already in place to come up with a better solution.

“Currently, we are negotiating with them to come up with a solution. Our main concern are the customers. We want to see that they are not inconvenienced regardless of the outcome of the negotiation,” Mutabaazi who is currently out the country reportedly said.

When contacted, UCC publicist Pamela Ankunda could not divulge any detail of the closure or the negotiations, referring us to the Executive Director.

“Would you like to take this up with the ED?” said Ankunda when contacted on phone.

Asked if she could confirm or deny closure of the telecom, Ankunda was hesitant.

PC Tech Magazine’s efforts to get a comment from Eng. Mutabazi were futile as his numbers were unreachable.

Officials from Smile telecom also remained mute about the issue.

But sources inside the telecom say the offices are open and business is going on as usual.

If the allegations about the financial challenges are proven true, this will be the second telecom to remain operational despite running bankrupt.

Earlier in July, a minority report by a one William Nzoughu, the Busongola North legislator indicated that Mutabazi failed to switch off Uganda Telecom when it ran bankrupt.

Nzoughu further accused the UCC boss of bribing a section of Members of Parliament to suppress a case of conflict of interest in the whole case.

Smile Telecom was established in November 2009 and it launched its 4G LTE operations in Uganda in June 2013. It has since been providing its 4G LTE services to Uganda’s major cities and towns of Fort Portal, Gulu, Jinja, Kabale, Masaka, Masindi, Mbale, Mbarara, Mukono, Soroti, Tororo, and Wakiso.

Its until recently that the company introduced voice-over-LTE, called “VoLTE”, which is compatible with the iPhone and Android systems. It enables Smile customers to call around the world, fixed or mobile, using the SmileVoice App.

If closed, this will bring the number of telecommunications operators in the country down to seven.

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