Parliament has awarded a contract to telecom giant, MTN Uganda to offer Mobile Internet Services and Over the Top (OTT) services for MPs’ iPads.
This was revealed in a bid notice that was pinned on one of Parliament’s notice boards.
Parliament will spend at least Shs 16.5 million per month in provision of internet and Over The Top (OTT) services for over 460 members of parliament on their iPads.
Over the top (OTT) refers to content providers that distribute streaming media as a standalone product directly to viewers over the internet bypassing telecommunications, multichannel television, and broadcast television platforms that traditionally act as a controller or distributor of such content.
The Parliamentary Commission recently embarked on a bidding process to identify the best service provider in which MTN beat Airtel Uganda and Africell who were eliminated at the preliminary stage.
The bidding notice indicates that MTN will provide a 5GB monthly bundle at Shs 30,000 and OTT at Shs 6,000 for each MPs’ device per month. This translates to Shs 36,000 to be spent on each MP per month.
In September 2018, during the debate on the Excise Duty Bill (2018), Obongi County MP Kaps Fungaroo asked Parliament to assist legislators arguing they could not access social media platforms on their iPads due to rigidities from the service provider.
At the time, Fungaroo’s statement faced backlash from the public who had misunderstood his argument to imply that the MPs were asking that tax payers foot their OTT tax bills.
However, Moses Bwalatum, the Principal Communication officer at Parliament in a statement released in 2018, refuted the claims saying that the MP was simply seeking guidelines on a flexible system to allow MPs load bundles or pay OTT tax using their iPads.
In 2016, Parliament spent up to Shs 1.9 billion to purchase iPads to all MPs in a move that the Parliamentary admininstration said would make the legislators more efficient.