UCC cuts licence fees for internet providers

By Barbra Kabahumuza

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The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has cut licence fees for Internet Service Providers Association of Uganda (ISPAU).

This follows a case filed by ISPAU against UCC at the Civil Division of the High Court in Kampala recently.

In a letter dated June 25, ISPAU agreed to abandon its petition and also withdraw the pending application for judicial review in the High Court.

"The commission has committed to furnishing ISPAU with a copy of the revised fee structure," reads UCC letter.

UCC says ISPAU may either obtain a national public infrastructure provider (NPIP) licence with a maximum of two regional public service provider licences or a national public service provider licence with no infrastructure licence in any region.

"An operator who obtains a national public infrastructure provider licence or a national public services provider licence along with authorisation for the regional public infrastructure provider licences shall pay licence fees of $60,000 or 0.89% of licensee's gross annual revenue, whichever is higher,'' it states.

It also says that an operator who obtains a national public service provider licence alone, without any regional public infrastructure provider license shall pay licence fees of $20,000 or 0.89% of the licensee's gross annual revenue.

UCC further committed itself to reducing fees of regional licenses. In 2017, UCC gazetted a licensing framework for the industry where a public infrastructure provider licence was listed at $30,000 and a regional public service provider licence at $10,000 per year.

ISPAU stated that the new fees purported to revoke the subsisting fees regime for the telecommunications/ ISP sector.

In their application for judicial review before Judge Musa Ssekaana, ISPAU sought for prerogative remedies; an order quashing the new (amended) licensing fees and a permanent injunction restraining UCC from revoking the current licences of the members of ISPAU.

Court documents indicate that following the first hearing of the application for interim order, UCC held two meetings with ISPAU on June 24 and 25 and concessions were made.

ISPAU was represented by lawyers Kenneth Muhangi, Peter Nyero Lakwiya, Ivan Ojakol, Kenneth Kipaalu and Grace Nanyonjo, all of KTA Advocates.