Subscribers of Uganda Telecom Limited (UTL) in Karamoja are disappointed by the persistent network outages. On average, the UTL network disappears thrice a week for hours. Government owns 31 percent of the shares in UTL while the Libyan post telecommunications and information technology company takes the rest.
Recently, government took over the operations and management of UTL after the majority shareholders withdrew their funding. Even with this, subscribers in Karamoja say the UTL network is not getting any better over the years. More than twenty institutions in Moroto alone use the UTL Internet while approximately 800 individual subscribers depend on it for voice calls.
The institutions include government agencies like army and police, non-governmental organizations, UN agencies and private businesses among others. On Tuesday, work almost grounded to a halt at the Uganda Revenue Offices in Moroto town because of connectivity issues. Nickson Twebaze, the URA Eastern Region Manager, told this publication on phone from Mbale that his staff phones had gone off on Monday.
Twebaze notes that the Authority is only saved because of the orange Internet network introduced lately after registering lots of inconveniences with UTL. Gertrude Lokomol, an administrator of the HIV/AIDS pact program under Alliance of Mayors and Municipal Leaders on HIV/Aids in Africa (AMICAL) that relies on UTL, says the network is not just unreliable but also very slow.
She says the unreliability of the network has left most of them redundant in office yet there are lots of deadlines to beat, adding that UTL doesn’t have an office in Moroto that responds to their concerns. Munirah Suwed, the Manager Nenah FM, says the poor UTL network affects their operations.
George Okello, a UTL subscriber, says he has abandoned his line much as it was cost effective for him to communicate with his family and friends.
Tonny Achidria, the UTL Publicist, says a team of engineers are on the ground to resolve some of the problems affecting their network. “There are many factors that can cause the loss of network, these include but are not limited to; vandalizing of UTL equipment including masts, cables, poles etc. by unscrupulous individuals; to curb this we have reached out to the Police who have been instrumental in bringing the vandals to book. Another cause of periodic network outage is the technological upgrades and routine maintenance that we always undertake periodically to improve our service delivery,” Achidria said in his mail to this publication.
Adding that “The issues in Karamoja could have been caused by any of the above, but our technicians are always on standby to ensure that the network is back and everyone is on air in the most reasonable time possible. Please note that even with the above, network outages are only confined/restricted to a particular radius of operation and there has not been a time when the network is completely off in the entire region.”