The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on Thursday said that it had approved the new "Guidelines on Procedure for Granting of Approval to Disconnect Telecommunication Operators".
Dr Eugene Juwah, the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of NCC, disclosed this in Lagos during the "Regulatory Forum on the High Incidence of Interconnection Indebtedness in the Nigerian Telecommunications Industry".
Juwah said that the new document was necessary since the existing one was approved in 2004 and was due for review, to facilitate debt payment among interconnect partners.
He said that it had been observed that some operators took advantage of the provisions of the old guidelines to deliberately refuse to promptly discharge their financial obligations to their interconnect partners.
The NCC chief noted that this was possible because of the processes that had to be followed before the Commission could authorise the disconnection of an operator.
He said that several operators had also noted that Interconnect Exchanges had also become a major part of the problem.
"They now owe other operators interconnection charges, thus compounding the problem they were meant to alleviate.
"The problem has continued to escalate and the current cumulative debt profile in the industry is worrisome; if the continued high interconnection indebtedness is left unchecked, it will impact negatively on the industry," Juwah said.
According to him, the provisions of the new guidelines have taken into consideration the disconnection of all operators, including interconnect exchanges, and shortened the process for granting approval for disconnection.
"This is a measure to ensure that interconnection indebtedness is not detrimental to the effective administration of viable telecommunication businesses," the EVC said.
Mr Yetunde Akinloye, Assistant Director, Legal and Regulatory Services, NCC, said that interconnection was critical as it enabled subscribers to communicate across and within networks.
Akinloye said that the new guidelines would promote public confidence and ensure stability, transparency, competition, innovation and growth in the telecoms industry.
She said that it would create a favourable environment for seamless interconnection in the industry.