The over N165 billion interconnect debts in the telecommunications sector have become a source of worry to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and other industry stakeholders.
The NCC has, therefore, urged all indebted network service providers to, as a matter of urgency, pay up the debts or risk getting their names and debts published.
Besides, the commission said it would not hesitate to suspend the operating licences of the heavily-indebted operators.
The commission, in a document sighted by The Guardian yesterday, said it would take decisive action regarding the unacceptable rise in interconnection and facility indebtedness in the industry.
In the document, signed by the Director of Public Affairs, Nnamdi Nwokike, NCC viewed the conduct as a deliberate anti-competitive act, which threatens the sustainability of the industry.
It said that it is currently carrying out a comprehensive audit of affected operators, “and in due course, take necessary measures to protect the national telecommunications network.”
Besides, The Guardian gathered that and as expected, MTN, which happens to be the largest network in the country, is exposed to over 40 per cent of the interconnect debt, that is other operators owed it huge interconnect debt.
However, the latest subscriber statistics released by NCC yesterday, the country’s teledensity rose by three per cent, moving from 115.7 per cent to 118 per cent.
Meanwhile, despite the challenges currently plaguing telecoms service, including 2G, 3G and 4G, in the country, Nigeria has confirmed her readiness to roll out 5G network by 2020.
Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, stated this in Abuja yesterday at the workshop on the “Future of Industry: Driving Innovation and Growth,” organised by the Global System for mobile Telecommunications Association (GSMA).
He said the factors that affect growth and innovation in the telecom industry were government policies, regulations and performance of the networks.
In another development, the NCC has said that active telephone lines in Nigeria increased from 162,058,918 in September to 165,239,443 in October 2018.
The commission stated this in its monthly subscriber/operator data published on its website yesterday.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the regulatory body said that the lines increased by 3,180,525 from the 162,058,918 recorded in September.