NCC Grants Airtel Approval to Partially Disconnect Glo over Interconnect Indebtedness

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Emma Okonji

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the telecoms industry regulator, has granted Airtel approval to partially disconnect Globacom from its network for failing to settle interconnect debts running into billions of naira.

The partial disconnection, which will take effect from October 28, will make it impossible for Glo subscribers to make calls to Airtel network; but they can receive calls from Airtel network.

Penultimate month, MTN had accused Globacom of refusing to pay up its interconnect indebtedness and threatened to disconnect Glo subscribers, before NCC intervened.

In telecommunication business, telecoms operators settle interconnect bills amicably through clearing houses approved and licensed by the NCC. But over the years, the interconnect debts have piled up and some operators are unwilling to settle the backlogs.

Interconnect debts are bills that emanate from charges for calls generated from a particular network that terminate on another network. If a Globacom subscriber initiates a call to an Airtel subscriber, the call is terminated on the Airtel network and Globacom is expected to pay the approved fee for terminating calls on Airtel network and vice vasa.

Over the years, Globacom has had accumulated charges for calls generated from its network and terminate on the Airtel network. It is for this reason that Airtel asked for the approval of NCC to disconnect Globacom for failure to pay up its interconnect debts.

In a letter dated October 18, 2019 and signed by the Director, Public Affairs at NCC, Dr. Henry Nkemadu, NCC said, “The Nigerian Communications Commission hereby notifies the general public and subscribers of Glomobile Limited (Glomobile) that approval has been granted to the partial disconnection of Glomobile from Airtei Networks Limited (Airtel) as a result of non-settlement of interconnect charges. Glomobile was notified of the application and was given opportunity to comment and state its case. The Commission having examined the application and circumstances surrounding the indebtedness determined that the affected operator does not have sufficient reason for non-payment of interconnect charges.”

The letter further stated, “All subscribers are, therefore, requested to take notice that the Commission has approved the partial disconnection of Glomobile by Airtel in accordance with Section 100 of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 and the Guidelines and Procedure for Granting Approval to disconnect Telecommunication Operators.

“At the expiration of 10 days from the date of this notice, subscribers on the network of Globacom will no longer be able to make calls to Airtel but will be able to receive calls. The partial disconnection, however, will allow in-bound calls to the Glomobile network.”

NCC insisted that the disconnection will subsist until otherwise determined by the Commission.