We know that cellular operators of Pakistan did their best in utilizing every possible channel for selling their connections, and for sure they succeeded in it. But during all this they didn’t focus much on verification of subscribers’ data that resulted in increased concerns of law enforcement agencies, as there were plenty of un-registered SIMs that were not associated to any person.
Despite series of procedures adopted by PTA to address the situation, cellular companies failed to comply with them and kept on focusing on sales instead of subscribers’ verification.
An Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) was issued on 28th June 2005 where mobile companies were required to get their data verified through NADRA database and issue new connection after due verification. In May 2007, a directive was issued by PTA having split the verification in two parts i.e. “New Connection Sale” and “Cleaning of Old Data” with clear dead lines for mobile operators to complete the task. As a result significant amount of old data was cleaned through NADRA database and considerable improvement observed in new connections sales through the franchisees only.
In January 2008, Ministry of IT & Telecom issued a Policy Directive under section 8(2)(c) of the Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-organization) Act 1996, which replicates the procedure already in place for verification of mobile subscribers’ information. In light of the policy directive, a revised Standing Operating Procedure (SOP) was issued inline with the existing policy for immediate implementation by the Cellular Mobile Operators.
To ensure the implementation of SOP, a number of measures were initiated which include meetings with law enforcement officers, business communities and sales representatives and conduct of country wide surveys/inspections through PTA Zonal Offices. About 106 raids were conducted, 853 Franchises were inspected, 4108 retailers were inspected. In the process around 1425 SIMs were confiscated and 102 people were arrested who were involved in illegal business.
Deployment of Online Verification System
The cellular operators are (were) verifying their data through NADRA in batches, which at time becomes a lengthy and time consuming process. For convenient, easy and effective verification different options were explored and finally SMS based verification system was agreed by PTA, Mobile operators and NADRA. The systems was deployed with Mobile operators at selected outlets. Its expansion to all customer service centers, franchisees and registered retailers is still in process. Around 15% sale is being made through this system.
Measures undertaken by PTA across the country resulted in following actions:-
- The data of mobile subscribers’ antecedents for connection sold upto 30th November 2008 has been verified through NADRA. A total of 8.23 million unverified connections have been blocked.
- As a policy, 10 connections on single CNIC are allowed per mobile operator. The excess connections on single CNIC have been regularized through a media campaign. Uptill now 2.92 million excess connections have been blocked. (Total Connections blocked 11.15 millions)
- To have a control on illegal sellers of mobile connections, mobile operators have now registered all authorize franchisee and retailers.
New System of Activation of SIMs after Verification
To ensure that the mobile connections are being sold to genuine customer with valid documentary proof, PTA in collaboration with the stake holders was planning to introduce “Inactive SIMs” in the market. The activation of the SIMs will take place after verification of subscriber’s antecedents from NADRA.
The sale outlets that are the franchisees, retailers and mobile company customer service centers will sell inactive SIMs. After the sale of inactive SIM has been made the customer will call at call center of mobile company at 789 from that SIM .It would be a free call. Call center representative will ask few questions to verify customer particulars. If the answers are correct the SIM will then be activated. Parameters of the proposed system are:-
- Sale of non-active SIM by sale outlets after completing mandatory formalities.
- Customer given an instructions card highlighting activation procedure.
- In non-activated mode, SIM programmed to dial call centers.
- Maximum activation time allowed is 24 hours.
- CMTO Call Center to order activation after verification.
The system will be functional in the country from February 1 2009, and will have following major advantages:-
- Efficient and effective verification procedure.
- Simple and easy deployment.
- Enhanced authentication parameters since it caters for secret questions.
- The interest/business of franchisee/retailer will not change.
- Efficient utilization of call based online verification system whereby the activation can be done quickly and accurately.
- Centralized control and responsibility will be with operators. Convenience and confidentiality of customer is maintained.
Procedure for Getting/ Purchasing a New SIM after 1st February 2009
- Customer to visit the Customer Service Center/ Franchisee/ Retailer
- Upon confirmation of original CNIC/passport of the customer, Cellular Services Agreement Form (CSAF) will be provided
- Customer to fill the CSAF alongwith thumb impression and hand it over to the sales representative
- New non-activated SIM will be issued to the customer
- Customer to dial “789” for activation of his/her SIM
- Upon successful confirmation of few queries by call center representative, SIM will be activated
- In case of non confirmation, customer will be asked to visit nearest NADRA swift center.