The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has granted disconnection approval to mobile network operators (MNOs) to disconnect owing colleagues over rise in interconnect debt and failure of the affected operators to pay.
The debts have accumulated over 15 years period, according to findings by TechEconomy.ng.
Meanwhile, in a document sighted by TechEconomy.ng, NCC has sent notification letters to the affected operators.
NCC has asked MTN, Airtel and IHS to disconnect, on partial basis, services to Globacom, Ntel (MNOs) and interconnect exchange points including Breeze, Exchange, Solid, Medallion and Niconnx.
An impeccable source in one of the MNOs confirmed that they are ready to commence disconnection at the expiration of 21-day window provided by NCC.
According to the source, the debtors have refused to comply with agreements reached after series of meeting.
“We don’t want to shut down operations because the particular operator owes us billions of Naira. It is better we implement the NCC directive which we are ready to do in the immediately the 21-day notice granted by NCC expires”, he said.
The implication of this development is that some millions of subscribers would soon start to experience service disruptions and may affect over 35 million subscribers.
While the affected operators have between the next 10 and 21 days, starting from yesterday to make amends or risk disconnections, Globacom currently has 41.5 million subscribers; Ntel as at March had about 150,000 subscribers, while millions of voice and data passes through the affected exchanges on a daily basis.
Recall that as at July, NCC put interconnect debt in the sector at N165 billion.
In the document sighted by TechEconomy.ng title: ‘Pre-Disconnection Notice’, NCC, citing Section 100 of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 and the Guidelines on Procedure of Granting Approval to Disconnect Telecommunications Operators, notified the public and subscribers of Ntel and Globacom that approval has been granted to MTN, Airtel and IHS to partially disconnect their services from them (Ntel and Glo) for non-settlement of interconnect and facility charges.
NCC also informed that MTN can also disconnect Smile Communications for non- settlement of interconnect charges.
The Commission also said it has approved the Disconnection of Ntel and Globacom from the facilities of IHS in accordance with Section 103 of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 and the Guidelines on Procedure for Granting Approval to Disconnect Telecommunications Operators.
“Smile, Ntel and Globacom were notified of the applications made by Airtel MTN and IHS and were given opportunity to comment and state their respective cases. The Commission having examined the applications and circumstances surrounding the indebtedness determined that Smile, Ntel and Globacom do not have sufficient reasons for non-payment of Interconnect and facility charges,” NCC stated.
The Commission informed that 9Mobile, Smile and Swift are also to be disconnected from IHS facilities and ATC Wireless Infrastructure Limited.
The telecoms regulator informed that at the expiration of 10 days from yesterday (December18, 2018) subscribers on the network of Smile will no longer be able to make calls to MTN, but will be able to receive calls.
“At the expiration of 10 days from the date of this notice, subscribers on the network of Ntel and Globacom will no longer be able to make calls to Airtel and MTN, but will be able to receive calls. Furthermore, Ntel and Globacom will be disconnected from the facilities of IHS.”
NCC also informed that it has granted approval to Airtel and MTN to disconnect from Breeze Micro Limited; Exchange Telecommunications Limited, Solid Interconnectivity Services Limited, Niconnx Communications Limited and Medallion Communications Limited (all exchange points).
NCC disclosed that at the expiration of 21 days, which started Wednesday, Airtel and MTN will cease passing and receiving voice and data traffic through Breeze, Exchange, Solid, Medallion and Niconnx respectively, and will thereafter utilize alternative channels in interconnecting with other network service providers.