Ban on mobile number portability lifted, restriction on Sims sale eased
By: Khawar Ghumman
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf advised the people on Thursday to make necessary changes in lifestyle in the face of terror threats which the country was facing at the moment.
Talking to a delegation of chief executive officers of private cellular operators, Mr Ashraf said: “The decision to block mobile phones in certain cities during Muharram was taken in national interest because it was unavoidable and extremely important for the safety of life and property.”
When it came to people’s life, he said, business considerations took a backseat. However, at the insistence of the CEOs, the prime minister lifted a ban on mobile number portability (MNP) and sale of Sims through the companies’ registered outlets.
Earlier this month, Interior Minister Mr Rehman Malik had banned MNP service and sale of Sims by cellular operators through their outlets and asked them to dispatch Sims to applicants through courier services to ensure their identity.
The prime minister agreed with the operators that the use of courier service would create a lot of hassle and affect their business and ordered removal of this condition. He directed that the mobile phone companies would continue to issue Sim cards from their own business centres as well as franchise centres after verification from the National Database and Registration Authority.
The sale of Sims by retail networks would, however, remain suspended until biometric devices are deployed at each centre. Mr Ashraf assured the delegation that measures taken by the government for the cellular sector would be guided by the principle that the normal lifestyle of the general masses should be least affected.
The government would also ensure that bare minimum inconvenience was caused to the masses, he was quoted as saying in a press release. Every effort will be made to facilitate the cellular companies, he added. He also assured them that in future all stakeholders would be consulted before taking decisions on issues concerning the cellular sector.
PM’s Adviser on IT Dr Basit Riaz, Interior Secretary Khawaja Siddique Akbar, PTA Chairman Farooq Awan, IT secretary and other senior officials also attended the meeting. After the meeting, the prime minister asked the ministries of interior and information technology to sit with customs and other relevant authorities to streamline the import and local assembling of cellular handsets and ensure that all handsets bear unique identification numbers (IMEI) and handsets without the IMEI and duplicate IMEI be banned.
The issue of 3-G licences was also discussed at the meeting. The prime minister said the government would expedite the auction of 3-G mobile licences keeping in view its benefits for people in the form of providing easy access to employment opportunities, education, health, agriculture and other social needs.
Meanwhile, the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of VimpleCom, the holding company of Mobilink, Mr Jo Lunder, called on the prime minister and informed him that his company was coming up with $1 billion investment in Pakistan. Mr Ashraf said the government was committed to pursuing a policy of facilitating investors in all sectors, particularly the telecom, to attract modern technology for the benefit of people.
Mr Lunder said that the nature of telecom sector investment was long-term and dynamic because of a rapid change in technologies. He said the skill and competence shown by human resource available in Pakistan had impressed the multinational telecom companies.