By Kunle Adedoyin
The dispute between mobile communication giants MTN Communications and Globacom over interconnectivity debts is not abating.
The dispute, which have left about 46.6 million Globacom subscribers unable to smoothly connect the MTN network in the past one week, may persist as both network operators are not making moves to reconcile their differences.
Also, Ntel subscribers have also been disconnected by MTN.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has confirmed that the total interconnect indebtedness of Globacom to MTN as N4.4bn.
Industry analysts say this huge debt and the accrued interest over the years had led to the decision to partially disconnect Globacom subscribers from making calls to MTN network.
Sources close to the regulator hinted that only N500m had been paid by Globacom out of its total interconnect indebtedness to MTN despite series of pleas, meetings and payment deadlines issued to the network operator.
As of December last year, the interconnect debt in the industry stood at N165bn.
Interconnect rate is the price that telecommunications operators pay each other for calls terminating on their networks.
In 2018, the NCC together with stakeholders reviewed the interconnect rates and reach and fixed N3.90 per minute as rates for 2G/3G/4G operators; N4.70 for the LTE operators; while the International Termination Rate of N24.40 was sustained.
Dr. Henry Nkemadu, the Director, Public Affairs, NCC, told a section of the media that MTN applied to the commission before embarking on the partial disconnection, adding that other network operators were handling their debt professionally.
“If there is any issue of disconnection, it is in line with an agreement reached by the companies. The necessary notices were already given because the indebtedness was getting too high and remember that interconnect indebtedness is not money owed but money already paid for by the customers. We have almost 99 per cent prepaid customers. If they (customers) have already paid for terminating calls, why shouldn’t the operator pay,” he added.
In December 2018, the telecom regulator granted approval to mobile network operators to disconnect other operators for failing to pay their interconnect debt.
In a notification letter sent by the NCC to the affected parties, the commission had asked MTN, Airtel and IHS to disconnect, on a partial basis, services to Globacom, Ntel and some interconnect exchange points.