- The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), in a statement issued on Wednesday, January 17, 2024, by its Director of Public Affairs, Reuben Muoka, announced that MTN Nigeria and Globacom have agreed to resolve the interconnect debt dispute.
- Consequently, MTN will no longer disconnect Glo, as stated in the Commission's notice dated Monday, January 8, 2024, which initially gave Glo 10 days to pay up. This means the notice period would have expired today, January 18, if the NCC hadn't issued another statement yesterday.
- Exercising its regulatory authority, the regulator temporarily suspended the disconnection for another 21 days, beginning Wednesday, January 17, 2024.
The telecom watchdog stated that it anticipates a resolution to the interconnect debt issue within the next 21 days.
Recall that last week, the NCC announced that it had partially approved MTN to disconnect Glo. Had this directive taken effect, Glo users wouldn’t have been able to make calls to MTN. However, they would have been able to receive calls from MTN.
Following this new 21-day extension, MTN and Glo subscribers will continue to be able to make and receive calls from one another.
To prevent what will undoubtedly be a severe inconvenience for users of network services, the commission insisted that all interconnect debt should be settled by all operating companies as and when due.
The Commission reaffirmed that all licenced entities' requirements to comply fully with regulatory obligations include paying interconnect fees.
“It is obligatory that Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and other licensees in the telecom industry keep to the terms and conditions of their licences, especially as contained in their interconnection agreements,” the commission further stressed.
While the regulation for telcos to pay one another for interconnection has always been in place, the enforcement has been rather lax. Over time, the failure to settle this fee has ballooned into significant debt.
The immediate past Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Umar Danbatta, put the figure over ₦70 billion in 2020. Given the poor compliance, it’d be considerably more today.
MTN and Glo's agreement comes at the same time that Nigerian telcos are asking the government for permission to raise rates by up to 15% due to high operating expenses.
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The telco regulator insists that the telcos give other reasons for the hike. With the increase in diesel prices, it’s not clear how long the commission can continue to hold out on the operators.
Meanwhile, debates about the effect of the hike on network users continue.