APPROVED NEW TELECOMMUNICATIONS LICENSE CATEGORIES

After considering all relevant factors, the UCC, in exercise of its mandate under sections 5(1)(b),(v), 6(1)(a) (e), 21, 22, 24, 25 of the Act and the Regulations made thereunder, the UCC approved the following new categories of licenses for immediate implementation:

National Telecom Operator (NTO) license

This licence shall be granted to an operator that demonstrates financial and technical capacity to establish and operate a telecommunications network spanning across the entire geographical boundary of Uganda.  The NTO license will allow the license holder to establish and provide both telecommunication infrastructure and services across the entire country. The NTO license shall be for 20 (twenty) years, renewable under the Uganda Communications Act 2013.

The following are some of the salient features of this license:

  • The licensee shall be eligiblefor national spectrum allocation based on technical expansion/development plan, legal and regulatory framework, public interest and availability of the respective resources.
  • The licensee shall be obliged to host and/or provide infrastructure services to PSP licensees within their respective licensed zones.
  • The licensee shall be obliged to host and/or lease to or from other National Telecommunications Operator and/or PIP license holders for network rollout and provision of infrastructure services within licensed zones.
  • The licensee shall be obliged to share active and passive infrastructure, including National roaming.
  • The licensee shall be required to list at least 20% per cent of its shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE) within two (2) years from the date of grant/ issuance of a license. This shall be undertaken in accordance with the existing listing rules as prescribed by the Uganda Capital Markets Authority.

National Public Service Provider (NPSP) License

This license shall be granted to persons who intend to provide telecommunications services to the public. This license will allow the licensee to provide either Voice and Data services or Capacity Resale Services across Uganda.

The following are the key features of the NPSP license:

  • The licensee will be authorised to provide either Voice and Data services or Capacity Resale Services across Uganda.
  • The licensee shall not be allowed to install or otherwise provide infrastructure services.
  • A holder of this license shall be required to provide its services through the network/infrastructure of a licensed NTO or any other licensed public infrastructure service provider.
  • A holder of this license shall not be eligible for spectrum assignment.
  • The license shall be for 5 (five) years, renewable under the Uganda Communications Act 2013.

Regional Public Service Provider (RPSP)

This license will allow the licensee to provide either Voice and Data services or Capacity Resale Services in a specific region within Uganda. The licensee shall not be allowed to provide services outside of their licensed region(s) and shall not be eligible for spectrum assignment.

This license will allow the licensee to provide services in any one or two region(s) in Uganda. The following are the key features of the NPSP license;

  • The licensee shall be authorised to provide either Voice and Data services or Capacity Resale services to the public in the region(s) covered by the license.
  • The licensee shall not be allowed to provide service(s) outside of their licensed region and shall not be eligible for spectrum assignment.
  • An operator can only hold up to 2 regional licenses. Once the licensee applies to provide services in a 3rd region, the Commission shall evaluate and assess such operator’s eligibility for a National Public Service Provider license.
  • RPSP license holder shall provide service through the infrastructure of any licensed NTO, NPIP or RPIP.
  • This license shall be for 5 (five) years, renewable under the Uganda Communications Act 2013.

National Public Infrastructure Provider (NPIP) License

This license shall be granted to persons who intend to provide telecommunication infrastructure services to licensed operators across the entire geographical boundary of Uganda. An NPIP licensee shall be entitled to provide infrastructure services to licensed National Telecom Operators, Public Infrastructure providers, Public Service Providers and Private Networks in Uganda.

The following are some of the key features of the NPIP license;

  • This license will allow the license holder to establish, install and provide infrastructure services throughout Uganda.
  • An NPIP licensee shall be authorised to provide infrastructure services to licensed National Telecom Operators, Public Infrastructure providers, Public Service Providers and Private Networks in Uganda.
  • Holders of this license will not be allowed to provide services to final consumers, except where the operator also holds a PSP license.
  • Depending on the licensee’s technical plan, a holder of NPIP license may be assigned spectrum.
  • The license shall be for 15 (fifteen) years, renewable under the Uganda Communications Act 2013.

Regional Public Infrastructure Provider (RPIP) License

This license will be granted to persons who intend to provide telecommunication infrastructure services to licensed operators in one or two region(s) in Uganda. The following are some of the key features of the RPIP license;

  • This license will allow the holder to install, establish and maintain telecommunication infrastructure services in a specific region(s).
  • An NPIP licensee shall be authorised to provide infrastructure services to licensed National Telecom Operators, Public Infrastructure providers, Public Service Providers and Private Networks in the specific region(s). An operate may only hold one or two regional PIP license(s).
  • Holders of this license will not be allowed to provide services to final consumers, except where the operator also holds a PSP license.
  • Depending on the licensee’s technical plan, a holder of RPIP license may be assigned spectrum. The license shall be for 15 (fifteen) years, renewable under the Uganda Communications Act 2013.

License to provide Communal Access

This license will be granted to persons who intend to provide communal access to telecommunications services in Uganda. This license targets person that may wish to connect specifically defined communities to telecommunications services.

A community shall, for this purpose, include a group of persons living in the same geographical location, having particular characteristics and interests in common.  The following are some of the key features of the Communal Access license;

  • A holder of communal access license will be authorised to establish, operate and provide communal access to telecommunications services to a particular community.
  • An applicant for this license must provide evidence of finance and technical capacity to enter into a contract with a licensed provider(s) of telecommunications services in Uganda for purposes of providing communal access to the targeted community.
  • This license is typically suitable for community-based, not-for-profit entities that may wish to provide subsidised telecommunications services to the unserved or underserved communities.
  • The license shall be for five (5) years renewable under the Uganda Communications Act 2013.

IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT:

  • Where an operator obtains two licenses for different zonal/regional categories, e.g. NPSP & RPIPK, the operator shall pay the higher or the two values for respective regions or 1.23% of GAR whichever is higher.
  • Where two licenses are issued within the same region/zone, e.g. RPSP & RPIP, only one license fee shall be paid or 1.23% of GAR whichever is higher.
  • Where a party applies for two National operator licenses, e.g. NPSP & NPIP, such a party shall be required to obtain an NTO License.
  • The Commission shall only assign spectrum to NTO, NPIP and RPIP license holders. Other licensees shall be required to roam on NTO, NPIP and RPIP infrastructures.
  • Transfer of license shall attract a fee equivalent to USD 30,000

AUTHORISATIONS

In addition to the above core licenses, it is proposed that the following four classes of authorisations are created for this business segment, to wit:

Equipment Distribution Authorisation. This will be granted to persons who deal strictly in the distribution and sale of telecommunications equipment, including network and customer terminals.

Equipment Vending and Installation Authorisation. This will be granted to persons that intend to import, vend, install and maintain telecommunication equipment in Uganda.

Authorisation to Manufacture. This will be granted to persons who intend to set up manufacturing/assembly plants for telecommunication equipment in Uganda. UCC’s main objective will be to ensure that the equipment meets the set standards.

Authorisation for Disposal of communications equipment. This will be granted to persons who intend to engage in the business of disposing of communication equipment.

General authorisation for Private networks. This is granted to persons who establish network facilities for the sole use of members of the owning body/entity in a private closed user group, not providing network servicesfor commercial gain. 

All authorisations shall be for five (5) years, but the holder will be required to obtain an Annual Compliance Certificate upon satisfaction of the compliance obligations. The fees for the respective authorisation are specified in the Uganda Communications (Fees & Fines) Regulations SI.94 of 2019.

AUTHORISATION IN RESPECT OF VALUE ADDED SERVICES

In addition to the above authorisations, Part VII of the Uganda Communications(Licensing) Regulations 2019 operationalised section 5(1)(v) of the Act by requiring UCC to classify services operated on a communication platform as a regulated value-added service and to require providers of such services to obtain licenses and authorisation from UCC.

Regulation 84(3) specifically provides that Value Added Services include-

  • Digital financial services, including electronic financial non-banking services.
  • Any aggregation of the value-added services.
  • Provision of communications channels to 3rdparty providers of electronic financial non-banking services.
  • Other services including the sale of content, whether audio, visual, data or broadcast content.

Considering that the sector has for many years grappled with challenges related to the provision of value-added services by unregulated persons, it is vitally important for UCC to implement this provision by classifying the following broad services as a licensable value-added service, necessitating their providers to obtain authorisation from UCC;

  • Authorisation to provide Digital Financial services. This will cover all persons engaged in the provision of digital financial services, including electronic financial non-banking services. This authorisation will apply to all providers of Mobile money services, Mobile electronic payment solutions, mobile-based lending services, among others. Persons who provide such digital financial services through telecommunication infrastructure shall be required to apply for and obtain this authorisation.
  • Authorisation to provide Digital Audio-visual content. This will be granted to persons who create, package and make available to the public digital audio-visual content through the telecommunication infrastructure. This will also apply to providers of communication aggregation services.
  • Authorisation to establish, maintain and operate an internet exchange point. This will be granted to persons that wish to establish, install and operate an internet exchange point in Uganda.

All authorisations shall be for five (5) years, but the holder will be required to obtain an Annual Compliance Certificate upon satisfaction of the compliance obligations. The fees for the respective authorisations are specified in the Uganda Communications (Fees & Fines) Regulations SI.94 of 2019.

TRANSITION TO NEW REGIME

To facilitate a seamless transition to the new framework, on the 29th of October 2019, UCC engaged all existing operators and applicants for telecommunication licenses in Uganda.

It was mutually agreed that all existing operators should, within sixty (60) days from the 29th of October 2019, formally write to UCC indicating which license(s) they wish to be considered for. This should be accompanied by any relevant information showing the operator’s technical and financial capacity to provide services under the license they wish to be considered for. To allow for adequate consultations, the Commission has extended the deadline for submission of the expression of interest to the 30th January 2020.

Upon receipt of the operators’ expressions of interest, the Commission shall, based on the current operational status of each operator, determine whether or not the license the operator wishes to obtain is the most suitable one. This will happen within 30 days from the date of receipt of the operator’s expression of interest. The Commission may, during this period, engage the respective individual operators to provide any additional clarifications or information regarding any material issues before a final determination is done.

All existing operators who shall have indicated the category of license(s) for which they wish to be considered shall be authorised to continue operating in accordance with the terms and conditions of their existing licenses until the 30th of June 2020, or as otherwise indicated in their respective letters as determined by the Commission.

That all existing operators should comply with the above timelines to facilitate a seamless transition from their current licenses to the new licenses which shall come into force not later than the 30th of June 2020.

All persons whose applications are still pending determination by the Commission should, within thirty (30) days from the hereof formally write to UCC specifying the license(s) they wish to be considered for under the new framework.

Prospective applicants may lodge their applications for any of the new licenses in accordance with Act and the Uganda Communications (Licensing) Regulations 2019.

PROPOSED LICENSING FRAMEWORK

Map of Uganda showing the Four Regions

Districts Under the Four Designated Spectrum Service Areas

entral Region
(red)
Eastern Region
(green)
Northern Region
(yellow)
Western Region
(blue)
MapDistrictMapDistrictMapDistrictMapDistrict
82Buikwe4Amuria1Abim81Buhweju
84Bukomansimbi7Budaka2Adjumani10Buliisa
86Butambala49Bududa78Agago11Bundibugyo
87Buvuma8Bugiri79Alebtong12Bushenyi
89Gomba83Bukedea3Amolatar18Hoima
27Kalangala9Bukwa80Amudat19Ibanda
90Kalungu85Bulambuli39Amuru26Isingiro
29Kampala13Busia5Apac23Kabale
36Kayunga15Butaleja6Arua24Kabarole
38Kiboga88Buyende16Dokolo31Kamwenge
95Kyankwanzi20Iganga17Gulu32Kanungu
48Luweero21Jinja22Kaabong34Kasese
99Lwengo25Kaberamaido42Kitgum37Kibaale
100Lyantonde28Kaliro43Koboko40Kiruhura
51Masaka30Kamuli93Kole92Kiryandongo
56Mityana33Kapchorwa44Kotido41Kisoro
59Mpigi35Katakwi97Lamwo96Kyegegwa
60Mubende91Kibuku47Lira46Kyenjojo
61Mukono45Kumi50Maracha52Masindi
63Nakaseke94Kween57Moroto55Mbarara
64Nakasongola98Luuka58Moyo102Mitooma
70Rakai101Manafwa62Nakapiripirit106Ntoroko
72Ssembabule53Mayuge104Napak66Ntungamo
76Wakiso54Mbale65Nebbi109Rubirizi
  103Namayingo107Nwoya71Rukungiri
  14Namutumba108Otuke111Sheema
  105Ngora67Oyam  
  69Pallisa68Pader  
  110Serere77Yumbe  
  73Sironko112Zombo  
  74Soroti   
  75Tororo   

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