Consumer Guide to choosing the right service
Question: What parameters to consider when purchasing communication equipment (handset / Mobile phone etc)?
Answer: The following parameters should be considered when purchasing communication equipment
i. Your budget
ii. Power storage capacities; Nickel Metal Hydride, Lithium Ion and Nickel Cadmium. Lithium Ion batteries are considered better.
iii. Compatibility for SMS, WAP or GPRS etc. if required
iv. Availability of features like vibration, last calls record, phone memory, clock, alarm, calculator, games etc, should be checked before purchase according to your requirement. Some features are network dependent also.
v. Phone memory, MMC card support capacity and strong battery are important considerations for heavier audio or video files.
Question: What should be considered when choosing the service provider?
Answer: The following are questions to ask before deciding which service to take.
i. How do you want to be billed (e.g. pre-paid or post paid)?
ii. Do you mainly use the phone to talk or SMS?
iii. Are there any set-up fees for the service?
iv. What additional services are available – and can you make good use of them (e.g. mobile internet, voicemail)?
v. How are the calls charged? In Uganda call costs differ when calling different networks? If yes, then to which network do you make most of your calls?
vi. Do you want to use your phone when you are abroad? If yes, then which package has this feature?
vii. The type of calls you make. Are they local or international?
viii. If you make international calls, which countries do you call the most?
ix. How often do you make them?
x. When do you tend to make your calls (time of day, weekday or weekend)? Most service providers divide the day into peak and off-peak periods. The peak period will have a higher charge for the call.
xi. How long are your calls?
The costs and availability of all these will vary between operators and between packages.
If you have a good idea of how you use your phone, you can then choose the right service provider and package for you with the additional services you require and save yourself time, money and effort.
Question: What is per second and per minute billing?
i. Per-second based calls are charged according to the seconds spent on each call.
ii. Minute based calls are charged per minute i.e. 60 seconds
Question: What are Post-Paid and Pre-Paid Sim Cards.
i. Post-Paid SIM Card is billed periodically, say, monthly. Full information is availed to the user, and it is the responsibility of the user to keep track of how much you are using on your phone.
ii. Pre-Paid uses a fixed amount which is included in the cost initially. Pre-Paid cards are recharged using recharge airtime cards available in different denominations.
Question: What next after choosing the provider and package?
The next step is to look very carefully at the contract between yourself and your service provider. Below is what should be considered before signing, so that you know your rights and obligations.
i. Make sure you are going to get exactly what you expected.
ii. Check the cost of all the types of calls you are likely to make and the services you want to take.
iii. Find out how long the contract is for?
iv. Find out if you can easily upgrade your package or change the services you take?
v. Find out how you can contact your service provider?
vi. Make sure you know the complaints procedure?
vii. Find out what the terms and conditions of the service are.
Question: What is a PIN number and what can one do if the SIM card gets blocked?
i. As soon as you insert a SIM Card in any Handset it asks for PIN (Personal Identification Number) which is a password that is known to the authorised user only. The PIN code can be set to protect your SIM card from unauthorized use.
ii. To prevent continuous attempts to 'guess' the PIN number the SIM card automatically gets locked-up after three consecutive wrong entries. If the SIM card is locked, the "Blocked" message will appear and an unlocking code will be needed. Further repeat wrong entries of PIN may lead to damage of card.
iii. The blocked SIM can be then opened through PUK number (PIN Unlocking code) which can be obtained from your service provider after establishing your identity. The PUK is an 8 digit code available with your cellular service provider. Also one should remember that 10 successive wrong entries of PUK number may damage the SIM card forever.
Question: What is an IMEI number of the mobile handset and how can we get it?
Answer: The IMEI number (serial number) is a 15 digit number unique to a mobile handset which can help in tracking your mobile phone if it is lost. Just key in *#06# on your cellular phone and it will display its IMEI number. Note it down safely
Question: What about changing your service provider?
Answer: If you are not satisfied with your service provider or want to choose a provider that offers more suitable services, you may well be able to choose another one. Or move to a package that suits you better. Below are questions to think about before you change your service provider:
i. How much notice do you have to give to end the contract with your current service provider?
ii. Given the whole picture of how you use your phone, is the new operator offering you a better deal? You are the customer – it's your choice!