Interconnection Disputes Has A Nigerian Telco Looking Like It Does Every Other Thing Right Besides Telecom Services

By  |  October 21, 2019

More Trouble?

Yet again, subscribers of Glomobile Limited (better known as Glo) may have to pay for the failings of their network provider.

Not too long ago, Glo was in the news for the wrong reasons when some of its subscribers were barred from connecting with MTN lines. This was because of a lingering interconnection debt that the former owed the latter.

Back in December of 2018, the Nigerian Communications Commission gave approval to MTN, IHS, and Airtel to partially disconnect interconnection debtors.

And as a follow-up, Glo, which appears to be the most terrible at paying the standard interconnection fees, had some of its subscribers blocked from reaching MTN lines in July this year.

Many of the affected Glo subscribers initially thought it a network glitch initially when they couldn’t connect with MTN lines, which make up the vast majority of telecom lines in Nigeria. 

But word soon spread that some Glo lines have been barred from reaching lines because of an ongoing dispute about interconnection debt. Basically, the affected Glo subscribers were suffering because of the laxity of their network provider.

That dispute was eventually laid to rest when Glo parted with NGN 2.6 Bn in interconnection payments to MTN, and normalcy was restored. But not for long, it seems, as Glo is yet again embroiled in a similar standoff with a telco in Nigeria.

Yet Another Tale Of Gloom For Glo?

In accordance with Section 100 of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 and the Guidelines on Procedure for Granting Approval to Disconnect Telecommunications Operators, the NCC has issued a pre-disconnection notice to the general public and Glomobile Limited (Glomobile) subscribers in which they granted approval for the partial disconnection of Glo from Airtel Networks.

This was triggered by Glo’s non-settlement of interconnection charges owed to Airtel. The notice was dated October 18th, with a 10-day grace period, after which Glo subscribers will not be able to make calls to Airtel lines but they will be able to receive calls.

Is Glo Forgetting The Important Stuff?

Interconnection charges are pretty standard. If a subscriber of Telco X originates a call to Telco Y and the call is terminated on Telco Y’s network, interconnection charges are due from Telco X to Telco Y. It’s a fundamental aspect of the workings of the telecom industry in Nigeria and beyond.

But time and again, Glo appears to be falling short. That Glo is owing interconnection charges to Airtel for calls made to Airtel’s network by Glo subscribers, in this case, is beguiling enough.

What baffles, even more, is something perceived as Glo’s tendency to fork out fortunes for the less-important stuff as opposed to using the same funds to actually put its house in order.

Throughout Nigeria, Glo has a reputation for sparing no expense when it comes to marketing but failing when it comes to the business of actually providing telecom services. 

The numbers may not be public knowledge, but it’s not overly wild to assume that Glo’s marketing budget is larger than that of any other telco in Nigeria.

This is evident in the sheer number of celebrities on its ambassadorial roster and the lavish quality/quantity of its ads. How subscribers yearn for the same energy in their telecom services!

So, What Now?

It’s not entirely fair on the telco given that the services provided by telecom networks in Nigeria are generally below par but Glo is easily scapegoated by Nigerians as the most terrible in the business, even though its networks are superior to others in certain areas.

Worse still, it doesn’t help that, yet again, the telco appears to be failing on the business end of things by failing to pay up its interconnection charges.

Glo subscribers will be barred from calling Airtel networks if nothing is done before the expiration of the 10-day grace period, and that will be yet another indictment or embarrassment for a telco which many already consider as getting every other thing right besides providing telecom services.

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