Cellular companies mull multiple options for SIMs verification
By Muhammad Yasir
KARACHI: The cellular operators are mulling on different options for introducing new SIM sales mechanism to ensure transparent system throughout the retail outlets’ network at minimum expenses.
Officials of the cellular phone companies said that operators have proposed different mechanisms for deployment of new system in whole sector after conducting separate financial feasibilities in recent weeks.
There are two proposals that mainly came under discussion—one is biometric solution along with equipment, the other is barcode of CNIC along with card swap machine. Besides the present SIM verification system of 789 is being considered to be ended to introduce one mechanism for avoiding discrepancies, delays and expenses in the process of SIM issuance.
There should be one unified system with easy process that will not only save expenses of the operators but feasible process for agents of retail outlets throughout the country, they said.
The cellular phone operators have different choices to set a uniform system in line with directives issued by Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf in the meeting with CEOs of all operators in November, an official of cellular operator said.
The government instructed to deploy a verification system mandatory matching the thumb impressions of SIMs’ purchasers from its CNIC, he said on the condition of anonymity. It could be biometric solution with equipment or CNIC swap machine.
According to an estimate, there are a total number of 196,000 retailers of all five telecom operators. In addition to it, SIMs used to be traded scores of small shops and cabins throughout the country.
The deployment of biometric machines is not only expensive for operators but its maintenance is also an issue in the future. In addition to it, the trainings to retail agents are long procedures for companies to provide in short time period, an official of another cellular phone company said.
The deployment of any new system cost millions of rupees to one operator whereas it has to pay regular charges to National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) on the issuance of every SIM for verification of subscribers’ data.
He said the cost of verification should not be increased further if one comprehensive system is introduced which ensures the mechanism authentic, transparent and smooth.
Cellular operators SIMs sales have nosedived due to ban on its trade at hundred thousands of retail outlets for more than two months, hence they can’t afford a slow process of SIM issuance involving more than one step, he further said.
SIMs activation is being carried out through SIM verification system 789 with NADRA database, which was introduced in 2009. The registration authority charges 17 on the verification of every SIMs from cellular operators presently.
Cellular operators and NADRA are likely to negotiate charges for subscribers’ data verification against CNIC once they decide about new mechanism.