The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has guaranteed that telecommunications subscribers in the country will enjoy uninterrupted service. The assurance was given by Sunday Dare, NCC’s executive commissioner for stakeholder management. The commission had on Tuesday served a pre-disconnection notice to eight telecommunications companies over interconnect and facility debts owed Airtel, MTN and IHS. Dare said although the level of debt is “embarrassingly high”, the NCC has put “safety valves in place” to protect over 160 million telecoms subscribers who will be affected by the disconnection.
He said the NCC is working with relevant stakeholders to resolve the issue of indebtedness which has plagued the industry for years. “It appears that some operators were taking unfair advantage of this provision by racking up millions, sometimes billions of naira in debts to other operators, denying their creditors of funds to expand their networks and putting the industry in peril,” he said. “The NCC is a consumer-centric regulator. The protection of our consumers and the sustainability of the industry are the primary drivers of our activities.
“So in this case, even before we granted the permission for disconnection, we had put some very stringent safety valves in place to protect consumers and ensure that they continue to enjoy uninterrupted services while we address the very serious issue of indebtedness in the industry.
“Over the years, the industry has been plagued with the very serious problem of interconnect and facility indebtedness. Some operators have racked up huge debts to others and have simply refused to pay.
“Now, we understand that there are ecosystem issues affecting all operators and we are daily working with all stakeholders to resolve these issues, but the level of indebtedness in the industry is at an embarrassingly high level, and the whole telecoms industry is at risk of failure if we do not act.”