Interconnection Indebtness in Nigeria – NCC Approves new guidelines

The Nigerian Communications Communication has put in place regulatory measures to guide and ensure seamless interconnection in the telecommunications industry. Despite these measures, it has been observed that interconnection remains a major source of conflict especially in relation to the issue of interconnect charges. The conflict has been traced to the refusal and/or delay in operators promptly settling their indebtness to other operators, or the inability of operators to reconcile invoices on the outstanding debts.

At the Regulatory Forum on the High Incidence of Interconnection Indebtedness in the Nigerian Telecommunications Industry organised by NCC on thursday, Dr Eugene Juwah, the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of NCC, disclosed that new guidelines was necessary since the existing one was approved in 2004 and was due for review, to facilitate debt payment among interconnect partners.

He said that it had been observed that some operators took advantage of the provisions of the old guidelines to deliberately refuse to promptly discharge their financial obligations to their interconnect partners.

The NCC chief noted that this was possible because of the processes that had to be followed before the Commission could authorise the disconnection of an operator.

He said that several operators had also noted that Interconnect Exchanges had also become a major part of the problem.

”They now owe other operators interconnection charges, thus compounding the problem they were meant to alleviate.

”The problem has continued to escalate and the current cumulative debt profile in the industry is worrisome; if the continued high interconnection indebtedness is left unchecked, it will impact negatively on the industry,” Juwah said.

According to him, the provisions of the new guidelines have taken into consideration the disconnection of all operators, including interconnect exchanges, and shortened the process for granting approval for disconnection.

The forum which was attended by different stakeholders in the telecoms industry, had a round table discussion and questions and answers session.

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