Airtel Uganda has responded to subscribers’ questions on the controversial data OTT packs launched on November 12, 2018.
In a statement, Airtel said Uganda’s first-ever data OTT packs will ‘enable subscribers to enjoy undisrupted connectivity by simply subscribing once and getting both data and OTT of the same validity’.
Data OTT packs combine data and OTT Tax by maintaining the same data volumes of the selected bundles and simply adding OTT Tax to them.
When an Airtel Uganda customer subscribes to this Data OTT pack, they will get a data bundle combined with OTT of the same validity as the bundle pack purchased. For example; daily 15MBs will be purchased at Shs450 and it will include Shs250 for the 15MBs plus Shs200 for the daily OTT – both valid for 24hours.
However, reacting to the story titled ‘Airtel Uganda Introduces First Ever Data OTT Packs’ on Business Focus Facebook, many subscribers said the innovation is a scheme by the telecom giant to ‘steal their money’ through double or triple taxation.
Below are a few comments picked from the story?
Timothy Habenga said: “Now what if I want to surf the internet without using any social media, do I also buy a bundle that has OTT included?”
Bwambale Mitusera joined the debate, saying, “Hihihi on this one you have found us with our eyes wide open.you guys come and see how thefty tricks are played by airtel. I would get convinced if you said on the 200 shs I pay for OTT there is also like 50mbs or more. Shame upon you.”
Denis Opio said: “Problem is not how to pay OTT, its where the money will be used. Before that is answered satisfactorily, VPN will be deployed.”
Business Focus had an exclusive interview with Faith Fiona Bugonzi, the Public Relations boss at Airtel Uganda to respond to the above responses.
Bugonzi says theot customers aren’t forced into paying OTT.
“A customer that is not interested in social media can still buy the Airtel data bundles through *185# under the category of daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly bundles that do not include OTT,” Bugonzi said.
She added: “The Data OTT Packs are a combination of the Airtel data bundle plus their respective OTT based on validity of the Airtel data bundle however, there creation did not mean that the Airtel data bundles were removed. They still exist alone without the OTT tax.”
On measures to avoid double taxation, Bugonzi said, a customer cannot buy another Data OTT bundle when an existing one still has a running OTT Tax. “For instance, when a customer buys the Data OTT bundle of 450/= at 11:00am it includes the 15MB daily bundle of 250/= and OTT tax bundle of 200/=. The OTT Tax bundle validity is 24hours so will expire the next day at 11:00am,” Bugonzi said, adding: “In this example, they cannot buy another Data OTT bundle as the validity of the OTT is still running instead they will have to buy Airtel data bundles with no OTT in them while the OTT Tax is still valid.”
Explaining the motivation behind this innovation, Bugonzi said it was a response to customer outcry to have OTT Tax subscription combined with an Airtel data bundle.
“This means that instead of subscribing for Data OTT Tax separately then buying a bundle separately you do all at the same time,” she said, adding: “ This creates simplicity and ensures that a customer is not inconvenienced when their OTT expires and they have a running bundle and forget to buy an OTT Tax bundle.”
She also added that the existing 50% bonus on data bundle purchase through AM applies to these bundles and just like for the other bundles bonus is valid till midnight of the day of purchase.
Commenting about the new product, Airtel Uganda Managing Director Mr. V.G. Somasekhar (in featured photo) noted that, “Gone are the days when subscribers had data but could not connect because they had not paid their OTT and vice versa. With these new packs, we are bringing convenience to our subscribers whether they prefer daily, weekly or monthly data packs.”
“This is the first offering of this sort in Uganda and we are proud to lead the way when it comes to providing our subscribers with affordable, convenient and innovative telecommunications solutions,” he added.