NCC, others decry huge interconnect debt among telecom operators

Stakeholders in the telecom industry has expressed concern over the huge interconnect debt among network carriers which reports put at N60 billion.
Interconnect cost is the cost that is incurred by network operators during the termination of services rendered to it by another operator in the industry.
While operators in the industry have continued to trade blames over the debt incurred with some alleging the inflation of figures which they attribute to the faulty billing system of their competitor others lament that the debt are owned by clearing houses.
National Daily gathered that the clearing house receives, validates and accounts for telephone bills for several service provider. They are particularly important for international billing as they convert different data record format that are used by service providers and convert for the currency exchange rate.
Olabiyi Durujaiye, Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said the rising debt poses a potential danger to the success the industry has witnessed in recent years.
He said interconnect indebtedness has the effect of introducing inefficiency into the telecoms industry and the entire national economy, unfair treatment of interconnecting partners will prevent subscribers from having values for their money.
President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, ATCON, Mr. Olusola Teniola believes the commission must ensure that each operator puts in place an automated robust system that can reconcile the interconnect debt situation. The regulator needs to force operators to pass traffic through interconnect clearing houses for accountability in the billing system.
 Also reacting, former Acting Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Stephen Bello said the high rate of indebtedness in the telecoms industry could be attributed to poor corporate management, diversion of telecoms revenue to other private investment in other sectors and poorly drafted interconnection agreement between operators.
He also noted that this interconnection indebtedness will slow down government’s socio-economic agenda on the expansion of networks spread and quality of service for subscribers. Noting that the NCC must ensure adequate monitoring of operators in the industry in line with the new Governance Code.
Recall that the NCC has recently launched the Corporate Governance Code which is expected to address non-compliance with the Telecommunication Networks Interconnection Regulations and other unethical practice by operators in the industry.