Last week, the media was awash with news reports about last Tuesday’s unfortunate incident where MTN Uganda allegedly switched off Africell subscribers from calling MTN numbers. In one of the stories run by Chimpreports a local online publication, MTN claimed to have switched off Africell services based on a directive from the Uganda Communications Commission over non-compliance According to communication accessed by this website, MTN’s actions were not only unlawful but also wrong on over three grounds;
a) MTN did not consult the regulator on the alleged “non-compliant” operators
b) MTN was in breach of their obligations to provide services under the interconnection agreement
c) In contravention of rules of fair play, Africell was the only telecom operator that was illegally targeted and blocked by MTN on that day.
Africell Legal team has since clarified that their network is compliant with regulations set by the Uganda Communications Commission adding that Africell has always come out on top as the best-rated network in terms of Quality of Service over the years UCC has carried out such tests.
Africell also maintains that MTN’s actions were illegal, made in bad faith and amounted to breach of the interconnection agreement, hence denying millions of Africell subscribers the right to make calls.
“It is, therefore, no surprise that MTN was ordered by the Uganda Communications Commission to immediately restore interconnection services to Africell Uganda on 9th May 2017” said the Africell Chief Operations Officer, Mohammad Ghaddar
In the letter, which this website has had access to, UCC cautioned MTN over their continued illegal acts over other players stating “the Commission wishes to express concern about the manner in which MTN unilaterally terminated communication services to Africell without first notifying the Commission…The purpose of this letter, therefore, is to order MTN Uganda to immediately restore interconnection services to Africell Uganda Limited.”
The Commission went further on to warn MTN not to terminate interconnection to an operator without informing the Commission prior to termination. Such actions by MTN have time and again prompted operators to call upon the regulator to rein in on such unfair and illegal behavior that is intended to distort fair playing ground for all stakeholders in the industry including imposing penalties.
Over similar incidences, MTN Nigeria was fined 5Billion dollars for contravention of compliance rules, while on Tuesday 16th May 2017, MTN Rwanda was fined 7 Billion Rwanda Francs over breach of license obligations. Sources say MTN Uganda faces similar penalties from UCC over their continued unlawful actions against their competitors.