Nigeria: NCC approves five operators to disconnect Zoom Mobile over interconnect debt

Telecoms

The Nigerian Communications Commission last week issued a disconnection notice to Zoom Mobile, a CDMA network operator, over interconnect indebtedness to five other rival telecoms operators in the country.

At the expiration of the 21-day notice, five operators including Airtel Network Limited, Glo Mobile Limited, MTN Nigeria Communications Limited, Multi-Links Communications Limited and Visafone Communications Limited, have been granted regulatory approval to partially disconnect Zoom Mobile off their networks.

If the order is carried out, it will be a big blow for Zoom Mobile as the five rival operators control over 95 per cent of the nation’s 90,969,794 active subscriber lines as at March, this year according to official NCC telecoms market information. According to the market information, the five companies controlled an active connection of 80,406,563 lines compared to Zoom Mobile’s 1,043,592 lines within the same period.

The effecting of partial disconnection would mean that Zoom Mobile subscribers can only receive calls but will not be able to dial into the networks of the affected operators.

Director, Public Affairs, NCC, Dave Imoko announced last week that the regulator issued the notice in accordance with Section 100 of the NCC Act 2003 and guidelines for procedure for granting approval to disconnect telecommunication operators.
According to him, Zoom Mobile subscribers will no longer be able to make calls to the five operators but will be able to receive calls when the disconnection is effected at the expiration of the 21-day notice that starts counting from today. He did not disclose figures involved in the interconnect debt. The partial disconnection order will allow in-bound calls to the Zoom Mobile network but not outbound ones to five operators.

According to Imoko, NCC had examined the applications and circumstances surrounding the indebtedness and determined that Zoom Mobile does not have sufficient reason for non-payment of the interconnect charges to the affected operators.

“Zoommobile was notified of the applications and was given the opportunity to comment and state its case,” he adds before the 21-day notice was issued today.

Interconnect rates are fees a network operator pays to the one on whose network the calls are terminated. These charges to carries for using the networks of other have been a major source of dispute among telecoms operators.