PTA groping for remedy thru’ SMS verification: Illegal mobile connections
LAHORE, Aug 21: The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has asked the interior ministry to devise an SMS verification system to deal with the issuance of unauthorised cell phone connections.
Sources told Dawn on Tuesday that the cell phone companies had submitted a proposal to the PTA regarding verification of new connections from the National Database and Registration Authority by sending an SMS (short message service) to it. They said the PTA had forwarded the recommendation to the interior ministry to take a decision.
Verification of new connections by Nadra, they said, usually took about 15 to 20 days and the operators wanted some speedy and cost-effective alternative system. They said through the proposed SMS system a franchise dealer would verify the identity of an applicant by sending an SMS to the Nadra’s official concerned and would receive the response within minutes.
Had the PTA taken up the issue a bit earlier instead of canalising its energies in introducing the over Rs5 billion project of Mobile Number Portability that had yet to click, they said, the issue would have been resolved by now.
The Supreme Court had recently taken a suo moto notice of unauthorised sale of mobile phone connections. Besides, a senate sub-committee had earlier this month asked the PTA to help improve law and order situation in the country by denying criminals an easy access to the unauthorised mobile phone connections.
The Nadra representatives had revealed to the committee that 20.1 million connections had been sold (in given period) by various operators. Of them, around 17.25 million connections had been verified by these companies and the remaining 2.85 million were untraceable.
The PTA has already started random inspection of mobile phone companies’ franchises and those failing to follow the authority’s instructions and guidelines will be fined and proceedings can be initiated against them in the light of the Telecom Act.
The proper procedure for issuance of the SIMs has not been followed especially in the last few years which is resulting in issuance of a number of connections on same CNIC. Even a person presenting the copy of the CNIC of someone else is given the connection and the operators aptly cite stiff competition as a reason for that.
Though the franchises of all mobile operators are supposed to issue new connections after receiving the copy of CNIC and verifying it from Nadra, the practice is hardly being observed.
On the other hand, a franchise dealer told Dawn that though the menace must be checked urgently, it was impossible for them (franchises) to meet the targets of the operators. He claimed that if a franchise failed to achieve the sales target, it was penalised by the operator.
An operator’s representative, however, pointed out that before the PTA’s inspection some franchises were involved in selling a number of SIMs on one CNIC and claimed commission against their sales. Now they would be given the commission only for the authorised sale.
Besides, he said, the PTA charged Rs500 for activation of each SIM whether or not it was issued on a genuine CNIC.