Uganda Communications Commission - Number Application consultation


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Uganda Communications Commission - Number Application consultation

  1. 1. Review of the short codes provision of the Uganda National numbering plan Consultation Document
  2. 2. CONSULTATION PROCESSBackgroundDuring the 2003 review of the Uganda National Numbering Plan, it was decided thatoperators independently identify and administer their own short codes for provision ofcustomer and value added services (VAS) on their networks.However, in the first quarter of 2005, it was observed that the operators had started toissue the shortened numbers to third parties in place of subscriber numbers in amanner of great concern to Uganda Communications Commission (UCC).Subsequently, in July 2006, after consultation with stakeholders and taking into accountexperiences elsewhere, UCC took back the administration of the short code numberingresource to realize the following objectives:  To promote growth and development of the communications sector in Uganda  To promote efficient utilization of the number resource in Uganda  To promote fair competition in the sector  To improve existing framework for the administration of the numbering resource to ensure transparency and efficient management  To ensure that future developments are provided for through reservation of numbersThe provision was further clarified in 2007 to facilitate implementation of the same.However, developments since then have resulted in a need to review the Provision toenable the realization of the above stated objectives.UCC under this consultation document invites comments and proposals on variousissues currently pertaining to the allocation and usage of short codes under the UgandaNational Numbering Plan.Uganda Communications Commission Consultation Document, Jan 2012 Page 2
  3. 3. Making a submissionOnly written submissions (Electronic/hard copy) will be considered.The close of submissions to this paper is 5.00 pm on Friday 10th February 2012.Submissions received after the above indicated date may not be considered in makingthe amendment to the short code provision of the Uganda National Numbering Plan.Submissions may be sent to:The Executive DirectorUganda Communications Commission,UCC HousePlot 42-44 Spring Road,Bugolobi - KampalaOr by email UCC prefers to receive submissions which are not claimed to beconfidential. However, the Commission will accept that a contributor may sometimeswish to provide information in confidence.In these circumstances, contributors are asked to identify the material over whichconfidentiality is claimed and provide a written explanation for confidentiality claims.Automatically generated confidentiality statements in emails DO NOT suffice for this purpose.UCC will consider each claim for confidentiality on a case by case basis. If the UCCaccepts a confidentiality claim, it will not publish the confidential information unlessrequired to do so by law.Uganda Communications Commission Consultation Document, Jan 2012 Page 3
  4. 4. DefinitionsAllocation – Permitting the use of the respective code(s)Application Provider – Creates and manages information and products to theconsumers through computer based or electronic services over service networks ofPublic service providers.Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) – This is the most widely usedmobile communication telephony technology in the world.Network Operator – A Public Service provider who provides mobile telephony servicesto consumersShort Message Service (SMS) – This is a messaging functionality that enables exchangeof text messages between mobile phones through a store and forward mechanism on amobile telephony network.Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) – This is a connection orientedservice that enables real time messaging between the mobile phone and applicationprograms on a mobile network.Uganda Communications Commission Consultation Document, Jan 2012 Page 4
  5. 5. ACRONYMNSGSM Global System for Mobile CommunicationUSSD Unstructured Supplementary Services DataVAS Value Added ServicesSMS Short Message ServiceMMS Multimedia Message ServiceMTN Mobile Telecommunications NetworkUCC Uganda Communications CommissionUTL Uganda Telecom LimitedUganda Communications Commission Consultation Document, Jan 2012 Page 5
  6. 6. 1 INTRODUCTION The Uganda Communications Commission is mandated under section 4(g) of the Uganda Communications Act, Cap 106 Laws of Uganda “to establish, amend and enforce a national numbering plan and to perform block number allocations”. In 2007, after consultations with the existing telephony operators, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) reviewed the structure of short codes in Uganda, their use as well as their allocation. Accordingly, the current short code provision was set up as fully defined in the current UCC Numbering plan Guidelines. Major changes made to the provision were as follows: (i) There shall be 3 digit codes of the form 1XX and 4 digit short codes in the range 6XXX – 8XXX for X=0-9. (ii) The 3-digit shortened numbers should be reserved for defined intra-network services and all emergency services. (iii) Codes in the range 100 – 139 shall be reserved or used for harmonised services or application common to the various networks while 140-189 shall be used by operators for innovations (iv) Codes in the range 190 - 198 were reserved for special services as designated by UCC. (v) The 4-digit shortened numbers were reserved for application or information providers of value-added services based on SMS and MMS for now, and other services that may later be defined by UCC. (vi) That the administration of the shortened numbers/short codes provision shall be done exclusively by UCC. (vii) Operators shall be charged fees against any short code used to provide or access paid for services. Any service that is provided using the code “Exempt from Authorisation fees”, should be delivered free of charge to the end user. (viii) The 5-digit shortened numbers should be reserved for adoption at a later date. (ix) The numbers already defined by the operators for intra-network services are ‘frozen’ as they are for a maximum period of three years from the date of pronouncement (2007)of this provision by the Commission, but all future assignments should be done according to the defined shortened number provision. These numbers, for example, then included 1100 for Celtel, 123 for MTN, and 222 for UTL. Following the introduction of the 4–digit shortened numbers that application providers could directly access, a corresponding growth in services provided using shortened numbers was realised.Uganda Communications Commission Consultation Document, Jan 2012 Page 6
  7. 7. Presented below is a graph showing the trend of assignments made for the 4 –digit and 3 digit shortened numbers in the innovation space (140-189) over the period 2007 – 20101. Over the period, as shown in the graph, there has been rapid introduction of new Value added services (VAS) provided by a multitude of application providers using the various telecom networks available. Network operators on the other hand had a peak growth in 2007, after which slow growth is observed in the number of assignments made to network operators in the innovation space. This trend however may be attributed to re- use of codes for promotional purposes, non compliance by operators to the revised Short code provision as well as the perception that USSD codes were not covered by the provision. An analysis of the existing services provided over various networks shows that there is a growing range of services and applications with limited systematic organisation of these services within the ranges / codes over which they are provided. The area of Value added services continues to be a high potential avenue for innovation and growth within the telecom sector for both application providers and network operators due to the growing versatility of services that can be availed to meet ever growing needs of mobile customers. Cognisant of this fact, requests made by industry stakeholders as well as other technological developments, the Commission in a bid to enable growth and harmonisation, enhance compliance and promote delivery of innovative services, would like to review the existing short code provision.1 Data extracted from UCC short code assignment databaseUganda Communications Commission Consultation Document, Jan 2012 Page 7
  8. 8. 2 The Existing short code provision The Uganda National Numbering Plan guidelines provide for the use of short codes as follows: The codes are categorised as follows: (i) Emergency Service Codes (110-119,900-999) (ii) Common Network Codes (120-139) with further specific allocations in consideration of harmonisation across all networks as shown in the table below: (iii) Independent Network Codes (140 -189) for operator innovations (iv) Special Services Codes (190-198) for UCC assigned special services (v) Content Codes (6000-8999) for application providersUganda Communications Commission Consultation Document, Jan 2012 Page 8
  9. 9. 3 ISSUES UNDER CONSULTATION3.1 Access to codes The existing provision provides access to three digit codes for only network operators in the Independent Network codes range for provision of innovative services. Application providers have access to four digit codes in the Content Codes range and in cases where they require a three digit code for provision of services; they have to acquire this code through the respective network operator. Information from industry players indicates a large demand for the three digit codes arising mainly from the need to deploy Unstructured Supplementary Services Data (USSD) applications to provide interactive services. The market is currently moving towards more interactive, real time services, which can best be offered over USSD. The challenges that have been raised related to access to three digit codes by application providers include;  Acquisition of a uniform code across networks: In most cases, it is actually impossible to acquire a uniform code across networks, as the codes have often been otherwise utilised by the operators.  The cost implication of acquiring a code across all networks: Due to the fact that they must approach and acquire the code independently from each operator, the cost of deploying a single service on multiple networks is multiplied by the number of networks compared to when a 4 digit code is used. These issues as such form a barrier to service provision on the side of application providers. On the other hand, network operators are reluctant to deal with multiple requests and subsequent network connections from application providers due to various reasons e.g. network security may be compromised. As such, most of them have developed models whereby all application providers intending to provide services over their network have their content aggregated by a recommended provider who then provides the connection to the network operator’s infrastructure.Uganda Communications Commission Consultation Document, Jan 2012 Page 9
  10. 10. 3.2 Categorisation of services offered and Consumer Protection There is currently a vast range of services offered over telecom networks. Consumers face difficulty in recalling and using the multiplicity of codes used to offer the various services as any service may be offered on any code within the applicable range. This random usage of codes also exposes consumers to exploitation due to the lack of knowledge on appropriate tariffs (free, standard SMS or premium rates) applicable to the different services. Consumers are further exposed to inappropriate content as well as unsolicited content. It would thus be desirable to categorise services with respect to content as well as tariffs so as to mitigate the above challenges.Uganda Communications Commission Consultation Document, Jan 2012 Page 10
  11. 11. 4 Questions and CommentsProvide input to the issues highlighted above with the guidance of the followingquestions; 1. Comment on the existing short code standard particularly analysing the impact of access to codes on your business, today and in light of future advancements of the technology. Show how it is enabling /limiting and propose amendments that may address these limitations. 2. In light of the issue on access to codes, given that there is an already existing pseudo 3 tier structure i.e. (Operator – Aggregator –end user) discuss the need for any further regulatory intervention in ensuring equitable access to short codes. 3. In regularising the above said issues (access to codes, categorisation of services offered and consumer protection) migration of services to different codes from the ones currently used for the services is an inevitable outcome. a. Make proposals on how this categorisation may be integrated into the existing/improved standard with minimal migration effects? b. Pointing out specific challenges, make proposals of what regulatory support may be provided to ensure a smooth and successful migration process.Uganda Communications Commission Consultation Document, Jan 2012 Page 11