The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has approved MTN’s request to partially disconnect Globacom (Glo) from its network due to unpaid interconnect charges. Reuben Muoka, the NCC’s Director of Public Affairs, announced this decision on Monday in a document titled ‘Pre-Disconnection Notice.’ The approval follows Glo’s failure to settle outstanding debts despite numerous attempts to resolve the issue.
Globacom was afforded the opportunity to provide comments and present its case Upon being notified of the application submitted by MTN. However, following a thorough examination of the application and considering the circumstances surrounding the outstanding interconnect charges, the commission concluded that Globacom lacks sufficient or justifiable reasons for its non-payment of the said charges.
What are interconnect Charges?
Interconnect charges are the fees imposed by telecom operators on each other for the handling of calls that conclude on their respective networks. These charges come into play when a call, initiated by a subscriber on one telecom network, reaches its intended recipient on a different network. The primary objective of interconnect charges is to compensate the network that receives and terminates the call for the utilization of its infrastructure and services.
To illustrate, consider a scenario where a user on Network A initiates a call to a friend on Network B. In this instance, Network A, serving as the originating network, incurs costs related to the initiation of the call. Simultaneously, Network B, acting as the terminating network, bears the expenses associated with receiving and completing the call to the designated recipient. Interconnect charges serve as a mechanism to ensure equitable compensation between these networks.
To delve further, if a telecom operator, such as Operator X, has subscribers making calls to another operator, Operator Y, Operator X will remit interconnect charges to Operator Y for delivering the calls to its subscribers. This reciprocal arrangement is designed to establish a fair sharing of the costs associated with enabling cross-network communication, thereby contributing to the sustainability and upkeep of the broader telecommunications infrastructure.
So what Happens Next?
Under the approved partial disconnection, Globacom subscribers will only receive calls from MTN users but won’t be able to initiate them. All other network functions, including outgoing calls to other networks and data services, will continue for Globacom customers.
Order is Observed
The Commission’s statement indicates that the partial disconnection aligns 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. After 10 days from January 8, 2024, Globacom subscribers won’t be able to make calls to MTN but can still receive calls. The partial disconnection, however, allows in-bound calls to the Globacom network.
Interconnect charges, which are the fees operators pay each other for calls terminating on their networks, are at the core of this decision. A source reveals that Glo owes MTN about N6 billion in interconnect fees. Efforts to obtain Glo’s response are underway, as the company has yet to comment on the issue. This regulatory action underscores the importance of meeting financial obligations within the telecommunications industry.
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