UCC Licensing Regime

Following Ministerial policy guidelines of May 11th 2006 and of 20th October 2006, the Commission has developed a new Telecommunications Licensing Regime. The new regime is based on a distinction between Infrastructure Provision and Service Provision. According to the Ministerial Guidelines, infrastructure is interpreted to mean plant, equipment and systems associated with transmission, reception and switching of telecommunications (electronic) signals. A telecommunications service is taken to be the relaying of messages of any form (voice or data) over communication infrastructure between a sender and a receiver.

In recognition of developments in the telecommunications sector worldwide, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) recognises that all the kinds of telecommunications service (voice, data and video) can be delivered over different types of technologies. Therefore the new licensing regime has been designed with technology neutrality in mind. This means that UCC does not discriminate between the types of technology that licensed providers choose to provide public communication services.

Here are the guidelines on application requirements and processing procedure for service and infrastructure licences under the new licensing regime.

In the same regard, the Commission has identified a number of resources and facilities and classified them as 'Essential Resources and Facilities' and all persons wishing to utilise these shall have to specifically apply for them. To date, UCC has designated the frequency spectrum, numbers and international gateway/access facilities as Essential Resources and Facilities. Here is the information on the application guidelines for Essential Resources and Facilities under the new licensing regime.

Postal and courier Licenses

To provide postal services in Uganda, a prospective provider should visit the Postal Regulation section.

Telecommunications Licenses

To provide Communications services in Uganda, one must obtain one of the following service licences:

1. Public Service Provider (PSP)

Under this, there are two types of licences available:- Public Voice and Data licence; and Capacity Resale licence

1.1. Public Voice and Data licence

This category permits holders to provide telephony and data services of any kind (mobile or fixed or both) using any technology of choice (cellular, satellite, Internet Protocol, traditional wired networks).

A holder of this licence must use capacity/facilities of a licensed infrastructure provider, or can build their own infrastructure after acquiring an Infrastructure Provider Licence. International gateway authorisation is exempted from this condition but necessary authorisation must be obtained from UCC. (see application requirements for essential resources and facilities)

1.2. Capacity Resale license

This category permits the holder to resell leased telecommunications services or capacity. Services here include the calling cards (international or re-branded local ones) and sale of telecommunications bandwidth (from local or foreign operators) to PSPs

Here is more detailed information about the Public Service Provider Licences.

2. Public Infrastructure Provider Licence (PIP)

This licence permits the holder to establish, operate and maintain infrastructure for the provision of communication services (if they are a PSP licence holder) and/or offering it commercially for use to PSPs. Private networks and networks solely established in the ISM (Industrial, Scientific and Medical) bands -- 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz -- are exempted from the requirement for a licence but have to adhere to the respective UCC regulations. If a private network requires the use any of the Essential Resources and Facilities, it shall have to first apply to the Commission for authorisation for the same.

If the licensee wishes to use wireless means to deliver services, they need to apply and pay for frequency spectrum separately. Similarly, authorisation for International gateway/access facilities is separately assigned. (see application requirements for essential resources and facilities).

Here is more detailed information about the Public Infrastructure Provider Licences.

3. General Licence

This category of licensees does not pay licence fees but registers with UCC and subsequently receives a Certificate endorsing their operations in the sector. Under this category today, we have public pay communications networks (payphone kiosks, fax bureau and internet/cyber cafés). Such payphone service providers are also allowed to use VoIP technology within their phone shops. They are however not allowed to provide any prepaid services to the public unless they obtain the necessary licence from UCC.

For further information on the new licensing regime and other licensing related issues contact UCC