Uganda Telecom to appeal interconnect ruling over Gemtel

Uganda Telecom is set to appeal the 5 billion shilling (US$2.17 million) judgment in charges, damages and interest it must pay MTN Uganda in a lawsuit over unpaid interconnection fees dating back more than two years.

A Uganda Telecom official said the company will file the appeal sometime next week to contest the judgment, which the company said is unfair considering the interconnection fees in question relate to Gemtel, a Sudanese telecom company, whose traffic they carried via MTN's networks.

"The judgment is unfair and that is the reason it will be appealed. The interconnection fees in question relate to call traffic to Gemtel, which is a foreign operator and as such these calls we think are international," said Emmy Olaki, the deputy spokesperson of Uganda Telecom.

A week ago, Uganda Telecom was issued a court order to pay MTN 3.5 billion shillings ($1.5 million) for interconnect fees for the period between 2008 and 2009 when MTN carried traffic terminating to Gemtel. Together with the costs of the suit, damages and interest, the amount comes to $2.17 million.

Uganda Telecom disputes liability for the $1.5 million and contends that the amount was arrived at by MTN wrongly applying domestic/local rates to traffic originating from MTN's network transiting through Uganda Telecom's network and terminating onto the network to Gemtel.

According to Uganda Telecom, if international transit traffic rates were applied instead of domestic rates, it would not have to pay anything to MTN.