Cabinet has Okayed the renewal of the licence of MTN Uganda with stringent terms.
The new stringent terms are set in the new national broadband policy which was also passed by cabinet on Monday.
Frank Tumwebaze, the Information, Technology and Communication Minister, says that the new MTN licence will have clear terms and conditions geared at promoting quality of services.
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MTN Uganda's 20-year licence acquired in 1998 is set to expire next month. Tumwebaze explained that when MTN acquired its first licence in 1998, the challenges were different from those of today. In 1998, government was concerned about telecom penetration which has been fully achieved and has now focused its attention on the quality of services.
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The broadband policy envisages steering transformation of Uganda into middle-income economy driven by affordable high-quality broadband connectivity. As a result of the new policy, Tumwebaze said all telecommunication companies will be required to seek licences to cover the whole country rather having network in specific areas.
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The policy also introduces a national roaming requirement. This means that a telecommunication company will be required to give network access to people using other telecom lines if those companies have no network in such areas. This, Tumwebaze said is aimed at ensuring that Ugandans have smooth access to network across the country. This roaming will be accessed at no extra cost.
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Tumwebaze further said the policy will result into putting in place a structured way of renewing licences for telecommunication companies. For instance, he pointed out that there won't be automatic renewal of licences for telecom companies.
The broadband policy also mandates all telecommunication companies to be listed on the stock exchange. This means that they will sell shares to Ugandans. This clause, Tumwebaze explained is meant to ensure that these companies share profits with Ugandans.
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Telecoms companies will no longer own the telecom spectrum, according to the new policy. Tumwebaze explained that if company gets a licence but fail to use it, government will withdrawal it.
“The business of companies hoarding their licences won't be entertained any more. If you fail to use, government will take it back,” he said.