10 Jul Uganda’s UCC, telcos clash over network monitoring technology
The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has installed a new Intelligence Network Monitoring System that tracks calls made on all networks and reveals the amount each operator is generating daily.
The system is designed to track multi-vendor network data, network performance, customer experience records, service quality performance, signaling statistics, documented data selections, customised data filtering as well as user configurable access.
Other capabilities include fraud detection and billing verification.
The system was first introduced to monitor voice and data – primarily to verify the amounts being generated for tax revenue purposes.
However, the regulator has now confirmed it will use the infrastructure to monitor mobile money and the recently introduced social media tax.
The Excise Duty Amendment Bill, which officially came into effect on 1 July, imposes a Sh200 (US$0.05) social media tax on SIM cards and fees are payable via mobile money.
Companies have announced they will charge 1% tax “from whoever deposits, receives, pays and withdraws money using mobile money.”
Prior to the new system, the regulator relied on a ‘self-declaration process’ according to which operators would declare all information to the regulator.
However, the UCC has since accused telcos of “under-declaring revenue and cheating the government”.
Godfrey Mutabazi, UCC Executive Director, said: “We have a solution in place and it is functional and we know how much they are earning and we do not have to beg them to tell us and they know it. We are using intelligent network monitoring system to track their revenues and government will collect the correct values based on what the system generates.”
The UCC added that the system has provided security officials with access to the telecom data system necessitated by emergence of mobile money services and the need to strengthen cyber security.
MTN and Airtel have voiced their opposition, describing the move as intrusive to their mobile money business.