The New UCC Directives to Telecom Companies on SIM Cards

UCC directives

In the wake of rampant crime within the country over mobile phones, and networking devices, we have seen the public questioning the operation of government bodies such as NIRA and UCC, plus the telecom companies that had secured personal data of mobile phone numbers and their users; and one would only wonder how integration of these has actually failed.

In statements shared on social media, various companies have gone on to advise their customers following a directive by the UCC in line with the Sale, Registration and Replacement of SIM cards in the country.

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The UCC directives are as follows;

1. The Commission reiterates its directive to all Telecom Operators to immediately cease to sell of SIM cards through hawkers, street vendors/agents and any other establishment that aren’t licensed by KCCA or other municipal town authorities .

2. All telecom operators must immediately recall all SIM cards that are held in stock by street vendors/agents/hawkers.

3. Telecom operators to acquire & install card readers at their service centres to validate National I.D info during subscriber registration this info will be instantly verified against the national database maintained by NIRA and will be hosted by UCC.

4. All Telecom operators shall immediately recall & deactivate all pre-activated and or pre-registered SIM cards that are currently in stock.

5. All Telecom operators shall expedite arrangements for the establishment and activation of the Central Equipment Identification Register (CEIR) in Uganda.

6. All Telecom Operators shall make available facilities on their respective networks through short code 197 (*197#) to enable the public to verify which numbers are registered using their NiNs.

7. All Telecom operators shall comply with any additional type approval requirements as well as arrangements for the sell and connection of customer terminals in Uganda as prescribed by the Commission.

8. All Telecom operators shall forthwith be liable for any violation of Commission directives by their staff of agents whether such violation is by omission, commission or otherwise.

9. For purposes of integration of the API to the operators networks and installation of the CEIR, 2 working committees comprising of representatives from the operators and UCC have been duly constituted with instructions to commence work immediately.

10. All Telecom operators shall obtain type approval from UCC for all network equipment used and subscriber terminals/devices sold by respective operators in Uganda.

11. All Telecom operators shall prioritize the establishment & implementation of facilities on their respective networks to deny access to any subscriber whose equipment doesn’t comply with the Commission’s type approval requirements

Under the new measures, a telecom operator will be required to install smart card readers used to verify the personal details of subscribers, matched against their national identity card data. Any Subscribers seeking to acquire or replace their sim  card will undergo a three-step screening process at the service centre and only an original national identity card will be accepted. Arrangements are in place to give the telecom companies direct access to the National ID database by the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA).