USSD refers to Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD). They are sometimes referred to as “Quick Codes” or “Feature codes”. They are a communications protocol used by GSM cellular telephones to communicate with the mobile network operator’s computers. These short codes usually start with * and end with #. While there are so many common USSD codes like *131# which checks for airtime balance across all telecoms in Uganda, there are some little known USSD codes that are very helpful.
We are living in the era of smartphones and smartphone apps. There is an app for almost everything you can think of. Therefore, chances are that you may not be dialing as many USSD codes as you used to in the past. In Uganda, even fewer numbers dial USSD codes after the disappearance of airtime scratch cards from the market. Telecoms have introduced apps like My MTN and Airtel Money Uganda to reducing the need for memorizing USSD codes.
These little known USSD codes will help you open up many possibilities and some may just save your life. For the curious type (like me) who would want to see what unexpected functionality their phone is hiding beneath the surface, behold, the list of 5 little known USSD codes.
*#06# – Display IMEI
An IMEI is an identifying number that is unique to your device. Apart from tracking your device in case it’s lost, there are many other purposes of an IMEI number. This makes it vital to know it especially if you can’t access the phone’s paper work.
*#07# – SAR value of your smartphone
SAR stands for Specific Absorption Rate, which is a measure of the amount of RF(radio frequency) energy absorbed by our body while using our mobile. The accepted limit is 1.6 W/kg. Any smartphone at or below this SAR level is “safe” to use. If your SAR value is above this limit, change your phone immediately.
* * 21 *number# – Activate Call forwarding
This is basically call forwarding. Sometimes, you may not need to receive any calls because you are busy working on something important. But you cannot block everyone or put the phone in silent mode because you might need to be calling up the people you choose or to use the mobile network.
Using the above code will redirect all incoming calls to a number you choose and save your phone from buzzing a lot and consequently help you to concentrate. I use **21*190# which works perfect on MTN Uganda, Airtel Uganda and Africell. You have to dial the code and then press the send button.
##21# – Deactivate call forwarding
This cancels call forwarding. Your phone can buzz again now.
*43# – Activate Call waiting
Call waiting helps a subscriber to suspend a telephone call already in progress to accept a second call. The subscriber may switch between calls, or choose to merge these calls into a conference call. Major telecoms in Uganda offer this service.