Unregistered SIMS banned from Friday

Mobile operators will not be able to sell pre-activated connections from Friday as the telecom regulator introduced a raft of measures to tighten the registration process to fight crimes committed using cellphones.
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) said mobile operators would have to stop purchase and sales of all kinds of pre-activated SIM (subscriber identity module) and RUIM (removable user identity module) and have to withdraw them from the market accordingly.
After the deadline, operators will be slapped with $50 for selling each improperly registered RUIMs and SIMs, it said in a notice recently.
BTRC said the number of criminal activities through cellphones has gone up recently, prompting it to re-issue the guidelines, which were first made a couple of months ago this year.
The notice said the operators would have to verify subscribers’ authenticity before activating any new connection.
The regulator said the operators would have to use various offline or manual processes to verify the authenticity before the database of the national identification card of Bangladesh Election Commission gets available for use for registration.
The regulator will hold the operators accountable if the subscribers provide any false information in the registration form.
It also urged the operators to pursue criminal procedures if any distributor or retailer is found guilty of breaching registration rules.
Mobile operators said it would be a problem for them to verify the information provided by a subscriber as they do not have such resources.
“We don’t have enough resource to verify any customer’s identification. The NID can become an effective tool to verify them, but we do not have access to the server,” said a top official of a mobile phone operator.
He also said SIMs and RUIMs are being sold by the retailers through the distribution channel of the operators.
The operators are not directly involved with the process. Still, the regulator will punish them for selling improperly registered SIMs or RUIMs, he said.
The new decision will hamper the growth of the telecom sector, he said.
BTRC fined all operators a total of Tk 6.29 crore in August this year for selling unregistered SIMs.
“We want the subscribers fill the registration form properly before it is included in the database of the operators,” said a BTRC official.
Currently the operators scan the SIM registration forms, but it should be filed as database, he said.
The operators said their cost would go up if they have to verify information provided by the subscribers.
The BTRC official said as the distributors are an integral part of the operators, the operators will have to be careful about registration for new connections.

-With The Daily Star input

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