Telecom industry is abuzz with the word that deployment of Biometric solution at Customer Service Centers, Franchises and retail outlets for the sale of new SIMs is primarily a move to benefit National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), a government entity.
They say that the whole episode of banning sale of new SIMs, MNP ban and other similar moves by government were the efforts to reap the telecom sector to benefit a single entity and it had nothing much to do with the security.
Those who support this theory say that each cellular company will have to invest at least Rs. 500 million (or Rs. 2.5 billion in total) to deploy biometric solution, that too for just their service centers, franchises and 10,000 retail outlets, as compared to 200,000 retail outlets that were previously operational.
All this investment is likely to go into NADRA’s pockets as evidently they are going to deploy the solution for telcos, despite, there are other solutions available in the market which claim to be cheaper (in terms of price) than the one quoted by NADRA.
Conspiracy theorists further advocate that current verification process of one subscribers (without biometrics) from NADRA costs cellular companies Rs. 17 — and rate is likely to increase to somewhere around Rs. 30-35 per verification; meaning that more recurring revenues for the NADRA.
This will be in addition to service and maintenance cost that the equipment (both on client and server side) may require — and again the only beneficiary will be the vendor, the NADRA.
Those who support this theory further suggest that this whole practice will enable NADRA to become a strong contestant for selling SIMs through its Sahulat Ghars, meaning that more margins and subsequently more revenues.
While we know that biometric solution doesn’t offer cent percent guarantee for elimination of unverified SIMs, such hefty investments by cellular companies is brutal at a time when cellular outages have already impacted the revenues of cellular companie by large.
This is especially alarming when cellular companies are up with alternative but inexpensive solutions with similar results, but reportedly the Ministry of IT and PTA are determined to get biometric verification system be rendered operational by February 28, 2013.
While we aren’t sure about the theories or their outcomes, it is clear that telecom industry will soon exhaust if such deliberate attempts by government aren’t put on halt.