UCC issues warning to telecom companies over unwanted SMS

Kampala- The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has issued a directive to telecommunication companies over unsolicited messages and warned to take action against non-compliant players.

The instruction, which takes effect on November 21, was published in last Thursday’s edition of the Daily Monitor. It laid down the requirements that telecom companies are obliged to abide by as a measure to address the problem of unnecessary messages.

Mr Fred Otunnu, the director for broadcasting at UCC, said the decision was sparked by the persistent complaints from the public about the unsolicited messages.

“Consequently the industry working group, chaired by UCC, sat down and came up with measures that all telecommunication service providers as well as information and content providers have to adopt to deal with this issue,” says Mr Otunnu.

The firms were asked to put in place an opt-out method using code “196” whereby subscribers who are not interested in receiving messages stop receiving them from a given short code.

They were also directed to operationalise a “Do not Disturb” (DND) register which ensures that a consumer on the register will not receive messages apart from those related to national emergencies and network outages.

“Failure to comply with this directive shall attract reprisals from the Commission to the offending party with no further warning,” read the order. Mr Otunnu detailed that the punishments include withdrawal of short codes.

Airtel public relations manager Sandor Lyle Walusimbi said the company is aware of the directive and added that an appropriate response would be given at an appropriate time.

MTN corporate affairs manager Anthony Katamba said they are working with UCC to implement the instruction. He, however, noted that the directive only tackles half of the problem. “The messages do not only come from us. Some are sent from internet and other sources from as far as out of the country,” said Mr Katamba.
Mr Micheal Niyitegeka, an IT expert, recognised the challenge of messages sent from other sources other than the telecom service providers, however he added that the latter should not hide behind that defence. “There are numerous messages received from the companies. So they also have a role to play to address the challenge. Let them play it,” he said.

Unsolicited text messages and calls cost phone users between Shs150 to Shs500 per instance.

atumusiime@ug.nationmedia.com

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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