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MTN, Glo settle interconnect debt saga

MTN, Glo settle interconnect debt saga

MTN Nigeria and Globacom have reached an agreement over the outstanding issues surrounding the settlement of the latter’s interconnect debt, sources close to the matter disclosed to BusinessDay.

This is set to bring an end to the drawn-out dispute between both firms. “Yes, an agreement has been reached. They have paid how much they owe. But interests had accrued over time, but we have agreed to collect N2bn as interests,” one of the sources said.

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This development between both firms has occurred within the 21-day grace period the Nigerian Communications Commission gave Glo in January.

61.54 million mobile subscriptions (as of November 2023) on Glo’s network were at risk of getting disconnected from making calls to MTN before now. In January, the NCC announced that Glo subscribers might be barred from making calls to MTN lines soon due to the non-settlement of interconnect charges. It stated that its directive might take effect at the expiration of a 10-day notice period.

The commission later extended its notice by 21 days after the expiration of the first. This was for the disputing parties to reach an agreement, considering the intended impact on subscribers.

The NCC said of the extension, “The Commission is pleased to announce that the parties have now reached an agreement to resolve all outstanding issues between them. 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.”

Reuben Muoka, Director, Public Affairs Department, NCC, mentioned to BusinessDay that a statement might be issued soon. He said, “I am not aware yet. I think so. It may be possible, but we may have to issue a statement soon.”

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Interconnect fee is the price that telecom operators pay for calls made to them from another network. MTN and Glo have disagreed over this fee for a while. In 2019, Glo subscribers briefly got disconnected from MTN over a N4bn debt.

Explaining the commission’s stance at a recent engagement with the press, Dr Aminu Maida, Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, said, “The commission has intervened because the primary issue for us is the consumer. The key thing is that both parties are on the table and there is a commitment to solving the issues within the next 21 days.”