New SIM Regulations are Destined to Fail

Pakistan_SIMIllegal SIMs or unregistered SIMs are truly a menace and must be dealt vigorously. While I am not challenging the intents and spirit of Pakistani government for curbing illegal and unregistered SIMs from our country, but I can safely tell you that the path they have adopted is not going to help them at all.

I am claiming this based on facts and proven track record of all such attempts that were made in past, which eventually failed because of the basic architecture of systems that were designed to curb illegal and un-registered SIMs.

Government, which wants cellular operators to shut down their entire sales channels and to deliver SIMs at customers’ home addresses instead of retailing it, is making the same mistake they did in 2009, 2010 and afterwards.

The History:

Before I move ahead to prove that this new SIM law is of no use, I would recommend you to read our past coverage on the topic. One of which explains the history of illegal SIMs. It will help you get to know the real culprit of this whole situation. You will understand how cellular operators and PTA are equally responsible for building a base of millions of cellular subscribers without proper documentation.

Basic Flaw:

Getting back to New SIM Rule, if you remember a similar attempt was made in 2009. With the introduction of 789 service, (and since January 2009) all SIMs are activated only after manual verification of CNIC number and mothers’ name of CNIC holders. More measures were taken and standard procedures for activation of SIMs got tougher in later years.

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The core mistake the government and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority made during all these attempts is that they focused on proper documentation of new acquisitions only. They didn’t try to regularize already sold SIMs which were being illegally activated (since 2005-06).

This new SIM rule of delivering SIMs to home address will probably ensure the foolproof registration of new SIMs, but what about those 120 million SIMs that are active and running in market?

Same happened when 789 was implemented. There were 90 million SIMs before 789 system, which are still pending for verification —  because we all know how these SIMs were mass-activated by operators through their retailers.

The Only Solution:

In 2010, ProPakistani proposed two options, which are still valid. I am just reproducing both the options here from original post:

  • One way is to let the system rolling – and we may end up witnessing millions of SIMs getting blocked by operators in coming days but we may never curtail unregistered SIMs from the country.
  • Give a Deadline of, say six months or an year, and make all cellular users of the country to re-register their numbers. After the deadline, let the registered numbers work and block all other SIMs, once for good.

In one sentence: Re-verification of entire base and block all remaining un-verified SIMs.

Cellular operators should pay-off for their misdeeds through 2005 to 2012. They should be asked to re-verify their entire customers’ base.

Bringing Shahzada Alam and Dr. Yasin to courts for not stopping these illegal SIMs won’t be a bad idea too. Revoking their awards and achievements should also remain an option.

If not done so, we might end up introducing new SIM rules every six months and no matter how secure system may get we will never be able to curb illegal and un-registered SIMs from our market.

Tech reporter with over 10 years of experience, founder of ProPakistani.PK


  • assad

    Give a Deadline of, say six months or an year, and make all cellular users of the country to re-register their numbers. After the deadline, let the registered numbers work and block all other SIMs, once for good.

    Thats the only way re verifed all data base

  • Aamir Sb rock on!

  • Bilal Shahwani

    You can do it easy in 30 days, Disable all functions such as text and dialer and when dialing give them message to register the SIM to re-enable cellular modules and thats that.

    • aamir7

      Implementation of re-verification can be sorted/defined by the high-ups. And it can be anything, as far as they ensure that re-verification is flawless and smooth.

      • Bilal Shahwani

        Reason I suggested this is that allowing volunteer re-verification would create hassle with support later on when people would either forget, never get the news or too lazy to do will barge in to ask why their SIM is disabled, disabling SIM would also allow companies to do it in step-by-step process where they can disable SIMs areawise, for instance all SIMs will be disabled in Hyderabad and allow them 15 days or close to 80% verification rate, when achieved move to other areas. That will keep whole process controlled aswell as organized and easy.

  • Memon

    I totally disagree with aamir sb here. The prepaid sims sale should be banned from all channels, whether retail or company outlets. Only postpaid connection is the best choice to have.

    • Shahid Saleem

      In a word: why?

  • Teeth Maestro

    I add.. the ban on Mobile Number Portability has nothing to do with solving the terrorism issue its just an excuse by the major telco’s to stop their subscribers from jumping telco’s.

    • yeah, moving from one network to other wasn’t just a lost of subscribers for networks but MNP users cost more than original network users to operators.

    • im ashamed to know that jahil people like you are working with Imran Khan. Taliban khan will fail because of bogus minded freaks with no vision. I was once a supporter but Taliban faced jamat e islami named PTI can go to hell from now. Rehman Malik or PTI all are myopic people coming up with their own versions without any knowledge whatsoever, MNP never caused problems for any company rather other than warid everyone was gaining from it. Also this is not about MNP it is about new sim sale, do you even know how many people have matching CNIC and Home addresses. If these things solved anything america would have solved the IED’s and other bomb problems in Afghanistan. they dont have the same law either. Also no MNP consumer does not cost more. I can prove it with numbers.

      • saliraza

        Your comments are appreciated but my brother this is not political forum. My humble request not to post such political issues on such forum. Thanks

        • @saliraza:disqus
          Bro you are right,And Read the Comments ,Seems that he even himself doesnt know whats he trying to say :p

      • Harry

        abay 0 girlfriend se ezeeload krwanay walay .. SIM k barey meey baat kr bhai, Nawaz Sharif ki electi0n campayn shuru na kr !!

    • Guest

      but i reduces the impact, MNP 2 tarikay se hoti hai ek franchise ya service center par dusira dukanon pe jo koi verification nahe laytay bas msg kar k data hasil kar k mnp ka process kar detay hen, jis se yeh hota hai k jis k naam pe sim already hoti hai usi k nam se dusiray network main chali jati hai, jab k franchise aur service center pe pehlay naam pe karwani parhti hai, aur yeh mobilink aur telenor walay ek dusiray ko hazaron sims detay hain apanay MNP target pura karnay k liye, jis se logon ki chalti sims dusiray networks me chali jati hai bina un ki ijazat k q k in dono networks me franchises par mukamil data ati hai,

      baqi masla terrorism ka yeh tou sim naam pe ho ya na ho yeh log isi ya dusiri agencies se track, trace karwa sagtay hen police bhi yeh he traika istemal karti hai DIG ki recommendation honi chaheyeh agencies se yeh record aur data lenay k liyeh, un k pas har data ati hai k number kahan chal raha hai us num k sath un say dusiray num hai aur us mobile me pehlay konsi sim use hue, IMI number se trace hota hai,

      in short agar woh chahay tou har chez mumkin hai baqi yeh sabh hamaray liye baten hoti hain jis se suffer aam admi he karta hai

      isi dunia ki kisi bhi agencies k muqabilay 10 sal agay he, (proud on I.S.I)

      par unhen bhi koi kahay ga to action karen gay na

    • abdullah

      how is it an excuse as they are also makin a profit out of it

  • muhu88

    Do not expect anything better from veena’s brother…
    Oye veena tenu Allah da vasta enu v le ja apne naal

  • Quratulain Habib

    I agree with the proposed ideas of treating the disease and as for the cure, the registration process is already in place to ensure that there are no additional unregistered SIMs out there.

    An example, here in the UK, it doesnt matter whether the SIM is a PAYG (Prepaid) or PayMonthly/Contract (PostPaid). Everyone needs to register it over the phone and it may take a couple of hours for it to get activated on the network. So if you buy a sim on Friday night from a store then chances are that you have to wait till Monday morning for the network team to get in office and activate it. The Contact Center staff only verifies your information / or notes it down and queues your request for activation.

    Another interesting way they do things here is that they mail the SIM to your home. The SIM is free and it comes to your home after which you activate it with your details. This also does address verification for the user.

  • Farooq Saleem

    I totally agreed with Aamir, that only solution is to re-register all the SIMs again. I am living in UAE, and here both mobile operators (Etisalat and DU) start campaign to re-register all SIMs. First they gave 3 months time and after that they extent the deadline for 3 more months. and during this procedure, they are linking all SIMs with VISA, once your VISA got expired, after grace period, SIM will be automatically blocked. I strongly suggest that PTA should take this step asap.

  • njm

    Believe me or not, all I believe is that these are government weapons for extortion.If government is serious about eliminating those sims, no’one can think of better ways than them as the resources available are only seen when you put yourself in their shoes.

    I would appreciate if anyone can think in this direction and write about it.

  • Reactivation of dead SIMs should be restricted against production of Original Valid CNIC at the authorized Customers Service Centres of respective cellular companies.

  • Reactivation of Dead SIMs should be restricted against production of Original CNIC at the authorized Customer Service Centres of respective Cellular companies by the SIM holders.

  • Reactivation of Deads SIMs should be totally stopped. If any genuine Holder desire to do so should be subjected to a written application and production of original CNIC.

  • DON

    Hello Guys Kya ZONG NEW SIM FREE SALE Hoo Rahe hai ALL OVER IN PAKISTAN

  • DON

    Zong Customer Services: Kindly find below complete detailsZong Customer Services: FAQs

    Q: What is the celebration for?

    A: The celebration is for having 18 million customers of ZONG

    Q: How can A customer buy the SIM and from where?

    A: Customers don’t need to buy SIMs, They can get free SIMs all across PAKISTAN and on recharge of Rs. 50 or more can avail the free calling offer

    Q: What is the free calling offer?

    A: Customer on recharge of Rs. 50 or more subscriber will avail free calling from 6:00AM to 6:00PM for the next 30 days

    Q: What happens if a customer recharges Rs. 100 or more in the first month?

    A: The offer will be the same as above

    Q: What happens if a customer recharges in 2nd month?

    A: for 2nd month on a recharge of Rs. 100 or more subscriber will avail free calling from 6:00AM to 6:00PM for the next 30 days

    Q: What happens if a customer recharges in 3rd month?

    A: for 3rd month on a recharge of Rs. 150 or more subscriber will avail free calling from 6:00AM to 6:00PM for the next 30 days

    Q: Will this free SIM have any Free Air Time (FAT)?

    A: NO these free SIMs will not carry any FAT

    Q: What is the campaign duration?

    A: Limited time offer (till 30th November 2012)

    Q: What will happen to the ongoing activation promo?

    A: The ongoing activation promo where in customer buying new SIMs till 10th December and recharging Rs. 100 or more and availing sixer offer for free for next 30 days will be replaced by this new activation promo.

  • Salman Ansari

    After so many years in Telecoms, I can only say, that the poverty of thought in the governance as it exists is incredible! Amir is right in his suggestions as are many of us who know the core issues.

    The Government including the PTA (by incompetence or collusion or sheer couldn’t care less attitude) is cutting the nose to spite the face. Blocking MNP – silliest thing I have heard – only helps in bringing down the quality as the system will go back to the bad old times of customer lock-in with no recourse to change the operator without changing the number.

    Or is this also another action in the seemingly ‘calculated’ manner of destroying the growth fabric of the country?

    the illegal SIMs got into vogue basically to cut corners by the Cel phone companies and making sure that the numbers grow regardless of the actual growth – sales people have to show numbers too – without regard to actually active customer SIMs. The dark side was the use of these SIMs got illegal traffic into Pakistan. This has been running by big names (every one knows who these are) who are not caught but a show piece of red herrings by trapping a few “illegal exchanges” of small fry enables this multi-million dollar business to flourish.

    The illegal traffic was brought down to almost nothing with the termination rate dropping to under 3 cents/minute. With the advent of the new scam, the rate has been brought up back to 8 cents and above and the illegal traffikers are having a hell of a time. I am currently in the US and know the market here and can tell you that the black traffic has balooned. How else can they offer for pristine quality voice (with Lahore and Karachi numbers) at 4 c/minute?!

    Using only the mother’s name for SIM issuance was OK for a while but many years ago I had told of them (Government, Operators and NADRA) of the flaw in this since the trail eliminated the positive check by the issuer (there are clear methods to do this) and many SIMs are still issued (in the names of unsuspecting people).

    The real menace is the use of the cell phones for terrorism. It is great to try to weed out the millions of ‘illegal’ SIMs but the Terrorists are few and it takes only a handful of SIMs to be used for their operations. When you do something as counter intuitive as trying to ban SIMs by the million and not focus on trying to use brain power and analysis and coordinated efforts by the dozens of ‘Agencies’, only permits the culprits to hide in the mass.

    But with the huge monitoring systems in place, with massive data mining capability using Legal Interception, why can the Government not use the same technology to control and detect. The Data mining of the mass database can be also used via the access of the MNP platform.

    I know many people who know this more than me on how this can be done if we put our minds to it.

    Is this by design or lack of coordination, politics or just plain incompetence?

  • How the Hell is MNP a Security Problem????
    Any One Technically Explain Plz???

  • Ahmed

    Can somebody tell me that a sim can be issued on POC (Pakistan Origin Card) issued from NADRA

  • abdullah

    internet se criminals aik doosre se raabta karte hain.call or text b karte hain lehaza in tamam par pabande lagne chaheye.
    from world famous na laiq “rehman malik”

  • abdullah

    guys otoo use some forums such as facebook etc otherwise ye government hame stone age me le gaane ka soch rahee hai

  • Sincere Habiba

    You Are right… Aamir, I totally agree with your second option