By Najibu Mulema
Tensions running high and not all are rosy at the Plot 10-12, Corporation Rise, Kamwokya based Telecom Company.
Smile Uganda has today taken a big decision to lay off 50 staff in a move by the company to save itself from collapsing and in tandem cut operational costs. The decision comes a few days after the 4G-LTE carrier adjusted its popular premium data bundles, a move that was seen by speculators as a “ time bomb waiting to happen “.
According to Techjaja, On Wednesday Smile management called all its employees for an emergency staff meeting at 5pm, and informed them of the company’s intentions to relieve more than 50 staff of their duties. They were further informed that the affected employees would be sent notification emails today morning, with an appointment to meet at Protea hotel where each will be issued with a termination letter. The restructure has affected all departments and levels within the company.
VoLTE and unlimited data bundles have not yet turned the carrier’s fortunes around. In October last year, the 4G operator launched its new voice network using the latest Voice over LTE (VoLTE) technology which has only been used by a handful of subscribers. Smile communications ’ timing to enter the voice market came at a time when the two telecom giants, Airtel Uganda and MTN are locked into cut throat price wars that had seen the duo drop voice calls to UGX 6 and UGX 180 per second and per minute respectively. At that time, we predicted that such prices cuts by the big players would definitely undercut revenues for the small networks like Smile Uganda. This coupled with the fact that Smile’s coverage footprint is still lacking shows how much the struggling telecom could not continue to compete and has now resorted to cutting operational costs.
The company has had some tough times ever since it came to the Ugandan telecom scene in June 2013. By 2014, Smile had some Spectrum wrangles with Africell Uganda which lasted for several months even after the intervention of the regulator.