- Interconnect Debt: Globacom Pays N2.6b to MTN Nigeria
Following MTN Nigeria partial disconnection of 46.6 million Globacom subscribers last week for owing N4.4 billion in interconnect fees, Globacom has now made a part payment of N2.6 billion to MTN Nigeria on Thursday, according to sources familiar with the situation.
According to the sources, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) approved MTN Nigeria decision to disconnect Globacom for failing to pay despite all the meetings and agreements reached.
Globacom, through the help of NCC, is now discussing a suitable plan to pay the remaining amount to MTN Nigeria to avoid future disconnection.
Prof Umar Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, said: “Though the commission granted approval to the MTN’s request to disconnect debtor networks from its network in line with Section 100 of the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) 2003, the Guidelines on Procedure for Granting Approval to Disconnect Telecommunications Operators, 2012 and other regulatory instruments, what is happening now is that the creditor networks are restricting certain services to their debtor networks in form of one-way disconnection.
“It is one-way disconnection because, as a regulator, we prevented total disconnection; not doing that would be frustrating for the consumers. So, we have ensured that subscribers on the affected debtor networks are able to receive calls and text messages from creditor networks. This means they might not be able to make seamless calls or send text messages to the creditor’s network at all times because of restriction of access to debtor networks, pending when satisfactory payment plans are reached with respect to the Interconnect indebtedness. This is to prevent further accumulation of interconnect debt by the debtor networks,” he said.
Danbatta also expressed concern over rising interconnect debt in the industry, the commission put the debt at N167 billion, saying with over 90 percent prepaid customers “operators have no reason not to be settling their interconnection bills as and when due.”
Danbatta said, “You will recall that in the pre-disconnection notice issued last year on December 18, 2018, we gave another period of between 10 days and 21 days for the debtors (depending on whether they are service networks or exchange operators) to pay, so as not to lose their interconnection rights.
“We had expected that as responsible business entities, the debtor companies will either pay up or agree satisfactory payment plans with their creditors. But it appears no agreeable settlements plans have been reached after the expiration of the deadline, leading to the creditor’s decision to go ahead with the execution of the one-way disconnection, as permitted by the NCA Act 2003, which is what some subscribers are currently experiencing,” he said.