7m SIMs to be blocked by month-end
LAHORE, May 5: Over seven million cellphone SIMs are likely to be blocked by the end of this month for lack of ownership verification.
On the instruction of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), cellphone operators have already blocked 1.36 million SIMs which were issued either on fake or non-verifiable documents.
After a directive from the Senate Standing Committee on Interior to block all ‘unverified’ mobile phone connections by May 22, the PTA had started maintaining record of ‘old connections’ issued on non-verifiable documents.
“We cannot give the exact number of unverified SIMs at this stage but all Â‘old unverifiedÂ’ connections will be blocked after May 22,” a PTA official told Dawn on Tuesday.
He said the authority was strictly adhering to instructions of the Senate committee.
He said that all ‘new’ mobile phone connections issued on ‘fake documents’ would be blocked after June 30.
The figure of over seven million unverified SIMs had been reported in the standing committee’s meeting.
A source said the figure was ‘official’ and the PTA would have to block the connections.
The committee was also informed that the National Database Registration Authority (Nadra) had no record of 35 million SIMs.
The total number of cellphone users has reached 82 million in the country.
The PTA official said the authority had directed all cellphone operators to register all their sale points to ensure that no connection was issued without maintaining the record of the buyer.
The PTA had recently sealed eight outlets of mobile phone operators across the country.
The official said the authorised places to sell SIMs were mobile companies’ customer sale centres, franchises and registered retailers and all other points like shops, roadsides or hawkers were illegal.
“The authority, with the help of police, will raid such places and get cases registered against them,” he said.
According to an official of a cellphone company, the blocking of over seven million connections in ‘one go’ could create widespread resentment and economic consequences down the sales chain.
“Cellular tele-density has reached 50.4 per cent in the country during the last couple of years. This has helped bring economic and social benefits to rural population. The industry today employs more than two million people directly and indirectly.
In the last couple of years, the telecom sector has attracted $10 billion in investment,” he said.