3:49 pm - Sunday April 19, 2015

UCC Forces MTN to Harmonise Short Codes

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MTN Uganda balance check and recharge shortcodes
MTN Uganda balance check and recharge shortcodes

The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) and telecom company MTN are on a collision path over the commission’s directive to telecom companies to harmonise their three-digit short codes has finally come to an end.

The changes start on Sunday 1st March, 2015.

The commission today (Friday, 27th) share an MTN Uganda artwork on its social media pages captioned: “‪#‎MTN_NOTICETo those that were asking for confirmation, i hope this helps. With effect from Sunday 1st March, 2015, MTN is changing its codes for loading airtime from *155* to *130* and checking airtime balance from *156# to *131#.”


UCC last year directed all telecoms would start using *130* as recharge voucher number followed by # to recharge.  Currently, on MTN Uganda, you need to dial *156# to get the Airtime balance on pre-paid simcards.

MTN through their general manager for corporate services, Anthony Katamba had last year protested the directive saying the telecom firm has no plan to harmonise the codes. He added that MTN has been using its own codes (123 for customer care, 100 to retrieve voice mails, *156# to check account balance and *155* voucher number# to recharge) for over 15 years and that changing them will confuse its customers.

Harmonisation seeks to improve user experience by enabling mobile phone subscribers to recharge, check their phone balances or get customer care services using similar codes, regardless of the service provider.

Africell Telecom and Airtel are already using the codes, and Uganda Telecom sent out text messages to its subscribers in 2014 informing them of the new short codes.

There are nine telecom players in the market. They are MTN, Airtel, Uganda Telecom, Orange, K2, Smart, Smile and Vodafone, the latest entrant.

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