The dispute between MTN Nigeria Communications Plc. (MTN) and Globacom Limited (Globacom) over interconnect debt has been amicably resolved, meaning that MTN will not be able to disconnect Globacom’s network for failure to pay interconnect fees, as previously permitted by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
The NCC made the disclosure in a press release signed by Reuben Muoka, the director of public affairs,noting that the approval for disconnection granted to MTN has now been withdrawn as part of the resolution.
Interconnection is an essential part of the telecommunications ecosystem, as it allows operators to connect their networks and provide services to customers. The NCC plays a vital role in facilitating interconnection and regulating interconnection charges, which are the fees operators charge each other for completing calls. These charges help to cover the costs of operating and maintaining the networks.
“Following its initial Public Notice, the Commission with the aim of mitigating any potential disruptions to subscribers undertook further regulatory intervention, by mediating between the parties and facilitating the reconciliation process,”the NCC stated.
The NCC further reiterated that all Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and other licensees within the telecommunications industry must strictly adhere to the terms and conditions of their licenses, particularly those relating to interconnection agreements.
The commission also highlighted that in order to proactively address and prevent future cases of interconnect indebtedness in the telecommunications industry, it will be requesting relevant records and regular updates from MNOs, as well as adopting a transparent approach towards addressing such indebtedness.
The NCC noted that this statement is meant to serve as a reminder of its commitment to maintaining a stable and compliant telecommunications ecosystem in Nigeria.
Before the latest developments, there had been concerns that Globacom subscribers would be unable to make calls to MTN lines from Wednesday, 17 January, until the Nigerian-owned operator settled its interconnect fees debt.
Business a.m gathered that the interconnect charges owed by Globacom date back over 15 years, and had accumulated into billions of naira in value. This resulted in a serious concern for both MTN and the NCC.
In a notice issued on January 8,2024,, the NCC stated that it had approved partial disconnection of Globacom from MTN due to non-payment of interconnection charges. The NCC noted that it had informed Globacom of the application made by MTN, and given the network an opportunity to respond.
On its part, Globacom denied claims that it owed MTN Nigeria interconnect charges. A source at Globacom confirmed to the News Agency of Nigeria( NAN) that the disputed N1.6 billion was paid without issue.
After consultations between the two companies, the NCC postponed its decision to bar Glo subscribers from calling MTN lines for 21 days. This postponement was in response to the pre-disconnection notice that the NCC had issued in January.
Announcing its extension, the NCC said, “The Commission is pleased to announce that the parties have now reached an agreement to resolve all outstanding issues between them. For this reason, and in exercise of its regulatory powers in that regard, the commission has put the phased disconnection on hold for a period of 21 (twenty-one) days from today, 17 January 2024.
“Whilst the commission expects MTN and Glo to resolve all outstanding issues within the 21-day period, the commission insists that interconnect debts must be settled by all operating companies as a necessary component towards compliance with regulatory obligations of all licensees.”
The NCC noted that the approval of disconnection could have negative impacts on consumers, including a disruption to service for some users. The extension notice also stressed that MNOs and other licensees must comply with the terms and conditions of their licenses, particularly with regard to interconnection agreements.