MTN, Glo, Airtel, 9mobile get mandate to settle invoice promptly
A new business rule that will ensure prompt payment of fees among telecoms operators for collocation and other services has been released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). The rule, among other things, is aimed at addressing the lingering problem of interconnect and infrastructure sharing debts among telcos, which was said to have risen to over N70 billion this year.
In the new business rule, a copy of which was seen by our correspondent, the operators are encouraged to share in frastructure among themselves, but with prompt payment of agreed fees. “Payment for all services shall be in advance, except traffic-based invoices, which shall be settled within 30 days of receipt of invoice.
“However, billing for traffic-based sharing, such as Voice, Data and VAS shall be monthly and the invoice shall be within 14 days of the end of the transaction. Where there is a delay in invoicing for a particular period, the reason for such delay shall be communicated and agreed by both parties,” the rule states.
On the determination of costs for infrastructure sharing among the operators, the Commission stated that “the charge determination shall be bilateral and the cost made available to the infrastructure seeker shall take into consideration both capital and recurrent expenditures. However, where the Commission has made a cost determination, the same shall take precedence over any bilateral agreement by parties.
“Each party shall bear its set-up cost such as lastmile connections, interfaces, software upgrades except as may be otherwise mutually agreed.” Highlighting the procedure for active infrastructure sharing, NCC noted that prior to the commencement of any negotiation, all telcos must ensure that they are in good regulatory standing with the Commission. “An infrastructure seeker shall submit a request to an infrastructure provider, expressing its interest in entering into an active infrastructure sharing arrangement.
“An infrastructure provider shall reserve the right to refuse an application for active infrastructure sharing on grounds of insufficient capacity, network incompatibility and indebtedness of the infrastructure seeker to the infrastructure provider on other telecommunications services. “An infrastructure provider has the right to reserve not more than 25 per cent of spare capacity for its short term or emergency need.
The period to respond (either acceptance or rejection) by the infrastructure provider to any request for infrastructure sharing shall be 15 days,” the Commission stated in the new business rule. NCC added that the business rules are applicable for sharing of active infrastructure such as Multi-Operator Core Network (MOCN), Multi- Operator Radio Access Network (MORAN), and/ or Gateway Core Network Operator (GCN) with an applicable performance management system.
“MNOs shall provide capacity on their infrastructure to other operators on a bilateral, non-discriminatory basis. “The right of first refusal would apply where the infrastructure provider has overcome the reason for the initial denial of the infrastructure seeker,” it said. The Commission added that “where MNOs enter into agreements for active infrastructure sharing, tariff and charges for such infrastructure sharing shall be mutually agreed.
“However, where there is an existing price determination, such will be applicable. Only licensed telecommunications operators are allowed to enter into an infrastructure sharing agreement under these business rules.” Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, had recently expressed worry over the huge interconnect and infrastructure sharing debts among the telecom operators. According to him, the debt, which is now over N70 billion, threatens the operators’ capacity to expand their infrastructure for better quality service.
Danbatta, who expressed this concern at the maiden edition of the National Dialogue on Telecoms and Informaretion and Communications Technology (ICT) Sectors in Nigeria held in Abuja, had urged telecom operators to settle the debts in the wider interest of the industry. Danbatta said the “interconnectivity indebtedness valued at over N70 billion is a big challenge to infrastructure expansion and inimical to healthy competition,” which are needed for facilitating the digital economy in Nigeria.