NCC settles a 15-year-long interconnection dispute between MTN and Globacom. Two of the biggest network providers in Nigeria, MTN and Globacom have reportedly agreed to settle their 15-year-long dispute over interconnection fees.
The National Communications Commission has consequently withdrawn its approval of the plan of MTN to disconnect Globacom. And per several reports, MTN has settled for Glo to pay 2 billion Naira instead of the initial 3 billion Naira requested to pay the interest.
NCC Settles Interconnection Dispute between MTN and Globacom
In 2019, following a significant service disruption that lasted for five days and affected approximately 46.6 million subscribers across both networks, Globacom settled an interconnection debt with MTN Nigeria amounting to ₦2.6 billion. This payment came in the aftermath of connectivity issues that highlighted the interconnected nature of telecommunication networks and the financial obligations that ensure seamless service delivery between different providers.
The telecommunications regulator, however, emphasized that “strict adherence to the terms and conditions of licenses, particularly those delineated in interconnection agreements, is imperative for all Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and other licensees within the telecommunications industry.”
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is implementing a proactive strategy to manage interconnect indebtedness within the telecom sector, requiring Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to submit relevant documents and provide regular updates. This approach aims at fostering transparency and resolving potential disputes related to interconnection debts efficiently.
Globacom’s Separation from MTN Nigeria
In a significant development in January 2024, the NCC issued a notice indicating its partial approval for Globacom’s separation from MTN Nigeria. According to this notice, beginning ten days from its issuance, Glo customers would retain the ability to receive calls from MTN but would be barred from initiating calls to MTN subscribers. This decision underscores the regulatory steps taken to manage interconnectivity and financial obligations between telecom providers.
By January 17, 2024, the NCC announced that Globacom and MTN Nigeria had reached an agreement to settle their interconnection debt dispute, leading to a temporary suspension of the disconnection process for an additional 21 days. This move highlights the commission’s role in facilitating dialogue and agreements between telecom operators to ensure continuous service for consumers.
The Timely Resolution of Interconnection Debts
The NCC has emphasized the necessity for MNOs and other licensees in the telecom industry to adhere strictly to the terms and conditions of their licenses, especially those related to their interconnection agreements. This adherence is crucial for the timely resolution of interconnection debts, which, if unaddressed, can lead to service disruptions for consumers.
Call for a Review of Tariffs
Amidst concerns raised by telecom operators about the sustainability of the sector in the face of rising operational costs, there has been a call for a review of tariffs. Operators argue that without adjusting tariffs, the industry may struggle to cope with the increased expenses.
In response, the NCC has requested telecom companies to provide justification for any proposed tariff increases, indicating the commission’s commitment to balancing operational viability with consumer protection. This situation reflects the ongoing challenges in the Nigerian telecom sector, including the need for financial stability and the imperative to maintain affordable, uninterrupted service for the nation’s subscribers.
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