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Interconnect Debt: NCC suspends disconnection of Glo subscribers’ calls from MTN network

Dr. Aminu Maida, Executive Vice-Chairman/CEO of NCC

*The Nigerian Communications Commission states in exercise of its regulatory powers, it has suspended the ‘phased disconnection’ of Glo subscribers’ calls from MTN for 21 days, effective from Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

As MTN Nigeria Communications Plc moves to activate the earlier regulatory approval to disconnect Globacom (Glo) subscribers’ calls from its network from Thursday, January 18, 2024, the Nigerian Communications Commission again, has intervened, and stated that in exercise of its regulatory powers, the Commission has suspended the phased disconnection for a period of 21 days from Wednesday, January 17 this year.

RELATED Telecoms: MTN Set To Disconnect Glo Network Subscribers’ Calls Over Indebtedness

Mr. Reuben Mouka, Director of Public Affairs at NCC, in a statement issued Wednesday, in Abuja, FCT, recalled on January 8, 2024, the NCC published a Pre-Disconnection Notice, informing subscribers of the approval granted to MTN Nigerian Communications Plc (MTN) to commence the phased disconnection of Globacom Limited (Glo) with effect from January 18, 2024, due to long-standing interconnection debt dispute between the parties.

The Commission said that in granting the approval, the Commission was deeply conscious of the potential impacts of the decision on consumers, and therefore, continued to engage both parties to facilitate a resolution which prioritises and protects consumer interest and the seamless operation of the national telecoms network.

Morka in the statement disclosed “the Commission is pleased to announce that the parties have now reached agreement to resolve all outstanding issues between them.”

READ ALSO: Globacom vs. MTN: Nigerian Telecoms Consumers Face Network Disruptions Over Telco’s Indebtedness

The telecoms sector regulatory Commission also stated: “For this reason, and in exercise of its regulatory powers in that regard, the Commission has put the phased disconnection on hold for a period of 21 (twenty-one) days from today, 17 January, 2024.

“Whilst the Commission expects MTN and Glo to resolve all outstanding issues within the 21-day period, the Commission insists that interconnect debts must be settled by all operating companies as a necessary component towards compliance with regulatory obligations of all licensees.”

The statement added “it is OBLIGATORY that Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and other licensees in the telecoms industry keep to the terms and conditions of their licenses, especially as contained in their interconnection agreements.”

Of interconnect debt issue between MTN and Globacom

Hitherto, MTN Nigeria Communications Plc had announced to its customers that Globacom network subscribers will not be able to make calls to MTN lines, effective from Thursday, January 18, 2024.

The Telco’s announcement to disconnect its competitor stays until the Nigerian-owned operator (Globacom) settles the much disputed interconnect fees debt it owes to the tune of N1.6billion.

ConsumerConnect had reported the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), in a ‘Pre-Disconnection Notice’ issued Monday, January 8, 2024, had given Globacom 10-day grace period to resolve the alleged indebtedness with MTN Nigeria.

MTN Nigeria, in a follow-up statement, said: “Following the directive from NCC, Glo subscribers will not be able to call you from January 18, 2024. Making calls to Glo subscribers is still allowed.”

Close sources with the knowledge of the matter, had disclosed that the interconnect charges, which started over 15 years ago, have now accumulated into billions of Naira, which MTN and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) could no longer ignore.

Besides, reports indicate Globacom Limited, operator of Glo Network, still owes the NCC the Annual Operating Levy (AOL), and every Mobile Network Operator (MNO) pays the levy to the regulatory Commission every year.

Telecoms sector regulator’s approval to disconnect Glbacom Network

Mr. Reuben Muoka, Director of Public Affairs at NCC, in the notice had said the telecoms sector regulatory Commission’s approval of the partial disconnection was made “Pursuant to the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003 and The Guidelines On Procedure For Granting Approval To Disconnect Telecommunications Operators, 2012.”

The NCC stated: “The Nigerian Communications Commission hereby notifies the public and subscribers of Globacom Limited (Globacom) that approval has been granted for the partial disconnection of Globacom from MTN Nigeria Communications Plc. (MTN), due to non-settlement of interconnect charges.”

The industry regulator also said that Globacom was notified of the application made by MTN, and was given an opportunity to comment and state its case accordingly.

“The Commission, having examined the application and circumstances surrounding the indebtedness, determined that Globacom does not have sufficient or justifiable reason for non-payment of the interconnect charges,” said the NCC.

The Commission thus, stated: “All subscribers are, therefore, requested to Take Notice that:

The Commission has approved the Partial Disconnection of Globacom to MTN in accordance with Section 100 of the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003 and Paragraph 9 of the Guidelines on Procedure for Granting Approval to Disconnect Telecommunications Operators, 2012.

At the expiration of 10 (ten) days from the date of this notice, subscribers of Globacom will no longer be able to make calls to MTN, but will be able to Receive Calls.

The Partial Disconnection, however, will allow in-bound calls to Globacom network.”

The NCC added: “Please note that this disconnection will subsist until otherwise determined by the Commission.”

Globacom reportedly insists no debt owed to MTN

Meanwhile, Globacom Limited, operator of Glo brand, has denied any indebtedness to MTN Nigeria Communications Plc.

The Nigerian network operator has denied reports that the firm still owes MTN Nigeria interconnection charges despite the NCC’s published pre-disconnection notice suggesting otherwise.

A Globacom source disclosed to reporters in the week, in Lagos, that the amount owed MTN, totalling N1.6 billion, had been paid.

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