Mobile phone users have up to January 31 to check the validity of their handsets before the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) blocks their connection to telephone networks. According to UCCâ€™s Manager Communications and Consumer Affairs, Fred Otunnu, the elimination of counterfeit phones will be done in phases considering that already there are many such phones on the market.
Mobile phone users have up to January 31 to check the validity of their handsets before the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) blocks their connection to telephone networks.
Those with fake or counterfeit phones have up to July 1st before they are disconnected.
According to UCC’s Manager Communications and Consumer Affairs, Fred Otunnu, the elimination of counterfeit phones will be done in phases considering that already there are many such phones on the market.
Otunnu says that counterfeit phones have problems with batteries, reception and general authenticity. The phones normally have a year’s lifespan and users have to keep on replacing the handset.
Otunnu pointed out that users can identify counterfeit handsets by keenly observing their visual features or sending the phone serial number to the UCC prescribed 8883 code that gives an instant verification.
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The UCC procedure to eliminate and block all counterfeit mobile phones on the market has put traders in mobile phones on the alert. Gerald Ssenyange, a dealer at GSM phones on Johnson Street in Kampala, says to avoid the risk of incurring losses when the deadline passes, he now buys only from authentic dealers.
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Otunnu explained that all authentic mobile phones have a serial number registered to a global network for dealers and manufacturers shared across the world with regulators and other institutions. URN’s quick spot-check on several dealers in Kampala revealed that the approaching deadline to eliminate counterfeits has made most dealers vigilant, while users like Nicholas Lubega, are already on the lookout not to fall victims of unscrupulous traders.
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Counterfeit phones have health related hazards to humans as well as being a danger to the environment. The phones also inhibit consumers’ access to quality service in the mobile telephone industry.
UCC first mooted the move to block counterfeit cell phones in October last year, just days after Kenya took the same step earlier that month. In a press statement, UCC said it would make it technically impossible for counterfeit phones to be used on the country's existing mobile telecommunications network; a move they hoped would stop imports of the devices into the country.
About one million fake handsets are said to have been switched off in Kenya since October last year, out of 30 million targeted by the Communications Commission of Kenya.
Major mobile phone manufacturers including Nokia and Samsung have for long lobbied governments in Eastern and Southern Africa to ban the counterfeit mobile handsets.
In 2011, Kenneth Oyolla, the Nokia general manager for East and Southern Africa, was quoted in the media as saying 30 percent of all mobile phones sold in Uganda are counterfeits, compared to 10 per cent in Kenya.