Retailers come under PTA’s microscope: Cell phone connection ills
LAHORE, Sept 6: Retailers and not the franchises of cell phone companies are ‘mainly responsible’ for issuance of connections without maintaining record, reveals a survey conducted by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.
The PTA had started a random inspection of mobile phone companies’ franchises and retailers throughout the country in the first week of last month. Initial findings reveal that “a good number of retailers are not following the instructions regarding issuance of mobile phone connections. Such retailers do not bother to obtain a copy of computerised national identity card (CNIC) from the person to whom they issue a SIM”.
The SIMs of one cellular company (Paktel) are even being sold at different intersections in Lahore, says the survey.
The PTA, which earlier had announced that strict action would be taken in the light of the Telecom Act against those violating its instructions, has now decided to ask the mobile operators to initiate action on their own against the retailers.
For the purpose, the authority has called a meeting of all cellular companies in Lahore on Friday (today). “The operators will be apprised of the situation and given two weeks to take action. Otherwise, the PTA will step forward and penalise the violators,” officials told Dawn here on Thursday.
They said the authority could directly penalise the violators, but wanted to give a chance to the operators to let the franchises and retailers mend their ways.
An awareness campaign, which was launched by the PTA in collaboration with the cellular companies and asked the subscribers to have their connections in their names, has been concluded.
Though the subscribers had been asked to visit the office of the franchise concerned along with mobile phone, SIM, a CNIC\NIC copy in case the number was not issued in their name, not many people availed themselves of the facility.
The PTA had to take up the matter seriously on reports that a proper procedure for issuance of SIMs was not being followed which was resulting in multiplication of connections against one or fake NIC\CNIC. Even a person presenting the copy of the CNIC of someone else had been given the connection and the operators were apt to cite stiff competition as a reason for that.
Although the franchises and retailers of the operators are supposed to issue new connections after receiving the copy of CNIC and verifying it from the National Database and Registration Authority, the practice is hardly being observed.
Besides, the law-enforcement agencies pass the buck on the operators for failing to trace certain blind cases in which criminals had used SIMs issued against fake CNICs.