We are to address high cost for data, says UCC

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We are to address high cost for data, says UCC
UCC Executive Director, Nyombi Thembo.

The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has promised to address the persistent issue of high data costs that has been troubling internet users in the country.

During a consumer town hall meeting held at Hotel Africa in Kampala, UCC  said there are  plans to stimulate competition among telecom companies as a strategy to encourage innovation and ultimately reduce data prices.

Joseph Kizito, speaking on behalf of Julianne Mweheire, the UCC Director of Industry Affairs and Content Development, emphasized the commission's commitment to monitor the pricing strategies of telecoms to ensure fairness and transparency.

“We understand the importance of affordable access to data services for all individuals and we are committing to supporting competition to drive down the prices while maintaining the desirable service quality. We felt it imperative to provide a platform for operators to directly respond to all these consumer concerns through this engagement.”

Mweheire highlighted several concerns voiced by consumers during the meeting, one of which was the issue of data expiry.

Many consumers said they were feeling cheated by operators when their unused data balances were swept away at the end of a bundle period.

“Customers also claimed to be losing data with no purported data-related activity undertaken. We also have rapid data depletion. Customers are reporting an increased rate of data depletion even when there is similar usage.”

Other concerns, she said, include, data affordability concerns compared to the East African region and data offer disparities”

UCC's Executive Director, Nyombi Tembo, echoed these sentiments, acknowledging the increasing number of complaints from data users, particularly on social media platforms.

"Over the past months, consumers across the nation on social media have voiced frustration over data pricing transparency, data offers, data consumption and unclear data usage policies,” he said.

He emphasized the UCC's dedication to addressing these concerns directly and engaging with consumers at the grassroots level.

“We understand these issues and we are here to address them head-on. From here we shall go on the streets, and markets to make sure that we put this across and receive these concerns from the grassroots," Tembo said.

David Birungi, the Airtel spokesperson  attributed the high cost of data to a limited number of people using smartphones in the country.

"Right now about 33% Ugandans are using  smartphones on a network that stretches from Nebbi to Kitgum to Kabale. How do we reduce that cost? We reduce that cost by increasing the number of people who are using smartphones."

"Its like hiring a bus of 25 people when you are only three. You will have to pay the cost of 25 people to hire that bus, but if you increase the number to 25, then the cost reduces."

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