THE UGANDA COMMUNICATIONS EQUIPMENT TYPE APPROVAL REQUIREMENTS
The Uganda Communications (Equipment Type Approval) Regulations, 2019 makes it mandatory for all communications equipment, apparatus or device that may be connected to a communications network to be approved by The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) before installation, connection or operation and use in the provision of communications services in Uganda. This requirement for approval also applies to electronic communications equipment and facilities before they can be used, supplied, sold, offered for sale, leased or hired in Uganda. A duty is also imposed on any importer of such equipment to ensure they meet the required standards and specifications prescribed by the Commission and that the equipment works compatibly with other equipment within the communications networks.
Thus, all equipment intended for use in public radio and telecommunication networks is required to be granted Type Approval by UCC. Type Approval means that the radio and telecommunication equipment and its terminal equipment are subjected to an approval process and after satisfactory confirmation that the equipment meets defined national and international standards and therefore least likely to cause disruptions when used in public communications networks; it’s approved for use. This is aimed at giving satisfactory overall performance of networks by ensuring that the communication links are built and maintained in such a way that their systems comply with both nationally and internationally set signalling and transmission standards and that terminal equipment does not cause degradation of the network or its established parameters.
Type approval is not something new since it has been a legal requirement. The 2019 Regulations (The Uganda Communications (Equipment Type Approval) Regulations, 2019) above repeal the 2005 Regulations (The Communications (Telecommunications and Radio Communications Equipment Type Approval regulations SI NO 22/2005). Telecommunications and radio communications equipment has previously been subjected to approval and all approved equipment is listed on the UCC data base of approved equipment.
The 2019 Regulations have been made with specific application to: the provision of communications installations and construction works; the approval of communications equipment for use in providing communications services, including interconnection of networks; the connection of communications equipment to communications networks; the direct connection of all terminal equipment to the communications networks, for use in the provision of communications services; equipment that can be connected to communications networks or systems for use by a communications service subscriber at his or her premises; the manufacture, possession, connection, installation, distribution, sale, lease, offer for sale or importation of communications equipment; and persons licensed by the Commission to distribute, sell, resell, install, commission and de-commission communications equipment and networks installations in Uganda; and disposal of e-waste from communications apparatus in accordance with the National Environment Act, 2019,(where applicable).
A person seeking approval should therefore ensure that the communications equipment, apparatus, device and any of its parts or components, for which approval is sought comply with the technical standards applicable to each type of equipment requiring approval by the Commission. The Commission has powers in the approval of any communications equipment to specify conditions to be complied with, and include a requirement for the licensee to satisfy any other entity with respect to any matter related to the approval of communications equipment. Approval is in respect to three categories, namely;
- Type-approval of equipment which consist of a technical evaluation process of the equipment, which satisfies the Commission on the performance of the samples and the manufacturing and quality control procedures.
- A one-off approval of equipment which consist of approval of equipment to a single dated purpose and which shall not be for multiple, repeated or general use, distribution, sale or resale in Uganda.
- A provisional approval for a period of 30 days and which may be extended for a further period of 30 days only.
UCC has provided a list of examples of telecommunication terminal equipment that require approval; which include (but are not limited to): Telephones (Ordinary, Cordless, Executive, Secretarial sets); Telephone Answering and Recording systems; Mobile and Fixed line network system components; Cellular telephones; Payphones (Coin and Card operated); Call Monitoring and logging systems; Subscriber Private Meters (SPMs); Facsimile Transceivers; Call Routing Apparatus; Private and Public Branch Exchanges (PBXs); Key Telephone System (KTS); Internet Protocol Telephone sets; Small Business System (SBS); Multi line systems; Voice Messaging Systems; and Data and fax Modem devices.
Examples of radio communication equipment that require approval include (but are not limited to):Citizen Band radio equipment; HF, VHF, UHF radio equipment; Microwave radio transmission equipment; Radio paging terminals & transmitters; Alarm transmitters; Satellite phone and VSAT network system components.
Equipment which is submitted for approval is tested by the commission in accordance with recognised and prescribed standards. The type examination procedures consist of type examination which includes examination of technical documentation to verify that the type was manufactured in conformity with the relevant national standards; performance of recognised laboratory tests to check for essential requirements and national standards set by the commission and in consultation with the Uganda National Bureau of Standards and regional and internationally recognised standards.
According to UCC, Uganda does not have an accredited communications equipment testing laboratory, UCC usually relies on the expertise provided by regulatory partners like FCC, CCK, TCRA and ETSI (who already have internationally recognised testing centres), so as to obtain laboratory test results of equipment that has to be type approved. In addition to the lab test results, UCC checks for compliance of the equipment with international and national standards as well as other regulatory requirements like licensed frequency spectrum bands operational parameters, equipment operational requirements and environmental and public safety issues, if applicable.
A special type approval process called type acceptance is applied for equipment that has already been type approved for use within the region by the regional regulatory partners like CCK and TCRA. UCC then issues a certificate of approval for every model of equipment that it type approves, and updates these models into the type approval database.
Once the commission is satisfied that the equipment meets prescribed standards, the applicant is issued an approval label which is to be displayed on the equipment and a certification or authorisation for communications equipment. The label once issued must be attached on all equipment by every importer or distributor of the equipment for local use or sale and the label must also be displayed in a conspicuous place at the importer or distributors premises (this label is not yet being issued by the commission).
The type approval holder can be the manufacture, importor, vendor, distributor, service provider, operator, or an individual user. For the equipment that is not locally manufactured, which is the case most times, the distributor, operator, service provider, vendor, or individual user of the manufacturer’s equipment is usually the type approval holder.
- Search UCC data base of approved equipment; all individuals and business entities that wish to apply for type approval of radio and telecommunication equipment are required to first cross-check with the UCC type approval database for the list of already type approved equipment.
- Submission of application. Where the equipment has not been type approved, and they decide to proceed to proceed with the application for type approval. The applicant should complete an application form provided by UCC and an application in writing to the Executive Director UCC. The application should be accompanied by: a Sample of the equipment to be marketed or/and installed; Letter from equipment manufacturer or manufacturer’s representative authorizing vendor to act as agent, if the vendor is an agent of an equipment manufacturer; Technical/operational documentation (including details of transmission parameters, operating media, interface specifications, fulfilment of service technology requirements, etc) in the English language; Copy of test report from manufacturer or an accredited test laboratory, if available; Proof of previous type approvals granted by other regulators, if available and Type Approval application processing fee, which is non-refundable.
Additionally, an application form for type approval of broadcast equipment must be accompanied by an approved and certified product technical specifications sheet from the equipment manufacturer, manufacturers powers of attorney (where applicable), manufacturers’ declaration of conformity signed and stamped from the manufacturer of equipment, test reports verifying the electrical, RF and Operational functions of the equipment from an Ilac accredited test laboratory, photographs (internal and external), circuit diagram, PCB layouts, part lists among others.
Application form for telecommunications equipment must be accompanied by the following additional documents, namely; sample of equipment clearly marked or embedded with the trade name, brand, model and serial number of equipment, a copy of the applicable user manual in English, a summary detailing the technical specifications of the equipment, a declaration of conformity signed and stamped by the manufacturer, test reports verifying the Electromagnetic conformity, RF conformity, Health and Safety conformity and Operational Functions of the equipment or device from an accredited laboratory and an authorisation letter or powers of attorney (where applicable)
- Assessment and evaluation of application. UCC then assesses and evaluates the application. Where necessary, laboratory tests are carried out on the sample terminal and an appropriate technical decision as to whether the equipment complies with the mandatory standards and requirements or not is made.
- Payment of type approval fee. If the applicant satisfies UCC requirements in all aspects, then UCC advises the applicant within twenty-one (21) working days from the date of submission of the application, on the type approval fee to be paid. [If laboratory tests are required, then the number of days may increase, but the applicant will be duly informed in advance.
- If the applicant pays the type approval fee, then UCC grants the equipment type approval. For approved cases, a type approval letter is issued to the applicant. If the application is rejected, UCC informs the applicant of the rejection and advises the applicant to re-export all the models of the type of rejected equipment within 30 days.
The commission has powers to revoke a Type Approval Certificate where the certificate holder or other person or entity modifies equipment without prior approval of the commission or after investigation of a consumer complaint or notification by any other government ministry, department or agency the commissioner finds that the type approved equipment fails a conformity assessment and the type approval holder violated any conditions of the type approval and the holder must withdraw equipment within 30 days of revocation.
It is an offense to make unauthorized connections, or manufacture, possess, connect, install, distribute, sale, lease, offer for sale, or import equipment not approved by the commission punishable on conviction by a fine not exceeding 960,000 Uganda shillings or an imprisonment sentence not exceeding two years or both.