PTA to block all unverified SIMs after 17th

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Pakistan’s telecommunication industry would be left with only 42 million subscribers after May 17, industry sources told Pakistan Today on Sunday. Those remaining would be the subscriber identity modules (SIMs) registered on a single computerised national identity card (CNIC), while some 62 million SIMs registered on multiple CNICs would be blocked by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) after the 17th of this month under the directives of the Interior Ministry.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik, in a meeting with the heads of all cellular companies, PTA chairman, Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication (MoITT) secretary, provincial home secretaries, interior secretary, chief commissioner, Islamabad police inspector general and representatives of intelligence agencies and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on April 19 ordered the authorities concerned, including cellular companies, to issue only one SIM on one CNIC.
Sources present at the meeting said that the tone of the minister was threatening and he did not listen to the reservations of the cellular companies about losing business. Malik formed a committee comprising all the stakeholders and asked the PTA to campaign for the blockage of dual registered SIMs after May 17. The PTA also told the cellular companies to trace out the international mobile equipment identity (IMEI) numbers of all their subscribers, yet the heads of the cellular companies were angry over the orders saying they did not sell mobile phones and this was the job of the authority instead, sources added.
Earlier, PTA Chairman Dr Mohammad Yaseen had said that the unregistered SIMs would be blocked by May 17 and SIMs verification process through 668 information system was in full swing, while he ruled out any contraction of subscribers as a result of the regulatory campaign. He claimed that there would be no decrease in the subscriber base and no loss to mobile operators through this campaign of blocking unverified SIMs after May 17.
The measures of this regulatory campaign include issuance of one SIM against one CNIC; verification of all prepaid SIM within 30 days; synchronisation of SIMs with IMEI numbers; identification of the consumers holding mobile sets with duplicate/multiple IMEI against one SIM; and disallowance of import of mobile phones without authorisation of PTA. However, sources said it was still a question whether PTA was allowed to block the SIMs according to the Telecommunication Act, as it was the MoITT which was responsible for issuing any orders to the PTA in this regard.

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