Infrastructure Rental Debts Revealed As The Biggest Contributor To Total Telecom Debt In Nigeria

Investigations conducted by Nigeria Communications Week have revealed that infrastructure leasing debt is the biggest threat to service delivery in Nigeria’s telecoms sector.
The investigations showed that in the $456 million telecom debts profile recorded at the end of 2018, interconnect debts accounted for $69 million while $387 million is what was owed to infrastructure providers.
Infrastructure leasing debts come from the renting of space by telecom operators from infrastructure providers such as ATC and IHS, ATC among others as well as trunk ducts and circuits used for long distance traffic transmission.
The Managing Director of Medallion Communications, Ike Nnamani confirmed these figures and agreed that an enormous amount is owed to Nigeria’s infrastructure providers.

Sources that work at Helios Towers identified Smile Communications and 9mobile as the highest indebted service providers and added that the situation was affecting Helios Towers’ operations because the telecom tower infrastructure company has its own debt to tower maintenance contractors as well as that it has to honour.
The sources said that Helios Towers could not pay this debt if the telcos continue to default on their respective infrastructure payments.
Gbenga Adebayo, the Managing director at Communications Network Support Service Ltd (CNSSL) said that the cost of leasing trunk circuits for transporting traffic for long distance services should also be looked into because of the revenue that service providers accumulate from the service. He said that some operators lease trunk circuit from owners who also happen to be service providers at exorbitant costs while still competing with them to deliver the very same service ultimately end up losing revenue.

Adebayo urged Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to look long and hard at the obligations of its National Carriers license which carries the responsibility of providing service providers with transmission infrastructure, especially for the sake of smaller operators who do not have enough subscribers to be able to afford the high cost of trunk circuit in the market.

 On the subject of tower debts, Adebayo said that the infrastructure companies and telecom operators should sit down and discuss amicable solutions on how to pay their debts.

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