Telecommunications services have gone poorer in the last few days owing to a partial disconnection of telephone lines largely due to increasing and unpaid interconnect debts.
It was learnt that an interconnect debt of over N165 billion among some stakeholders, including the mobile network operators (MNOs), clearing houses and value added service (VAS) providers, is currently causing silent but serious frictions in the telecoms sector.
Findings showed that the debt rose from N20 billion in 2013 to N165 billion as at June 2018.
An interconnect debt is the one incurred by an operator for terminating calls on another network. Currently, statistics from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) showed that as at June, there were 174 million active subscribers, out of which MTN has 65 million; Globacom 46 million; Airtel 45 million; and 9Mobile 15 million.
It was learnt that as a result of the debt, it has become difficult for subscribers to connect Globacom network, especially from MTN and vice versa.
Globacom subscribers said the last four days have been very hectic getting calls through from the network, to especially MTN.
A Globacom subscriber, Oluwaseun Adekoya, said that for about two days, it had been difficult for him to connect to other networks. “What we hear is that ‘you cannot call this MTN line, contact your service provider’, or ‘unfortunately, this call cannot be completed at the moment, contact your service provider’.”
Another subscriber to the network, Chinedu Obaze, said: “When I tried to call an Airtel line, the line was just saying busy, busy, and busy. This happened all through the weekend.” When Obaze contacted Globacom’s customer care department, the officials said: “We are working on the challenges. Services will soon be restored.”
An MTN subscriber, Gbenga Tundun, said he experienced drop calls connecting to the Globacom, but “connecting to Airtel was fair from the same line.”
An insider source at MTN confirmed the development to The Guardian. She said the telecommunications firm had commenced partial disconnection of services on some of the other networks, especially those owing it interconnection debts.