Telecom regulatory authority and government of Pakistan is considering to re-verify the entire cellular customer base of 120 million with upcoming biometric solution in order to straighten up the records of cellular subscribers forever, told us sources who are directly familiar with the development.
If put in simple words, the upcoming biometric solution for verification of customers will not be used only for new subscribers only but all existing subscribers will have to verify their cellular number once to keep using the cellular services.
Meaning that, along with new subscribers, existing subscribers will have to re-verify their connection(s) before a set period of time to continue using the service. All those un-verified numbers will be suspended and subscribers will not be able to use those numbers again.
Idea, as per sources, is to eliminate all kind of bogus and unverified numbers from the databases for once. This fool proof system – if implemented – will not only take care of new sales but all existing SIMs with unverified details will be eliminated for ever.
Obviously – if implemented — this is going to be a huge task and cellular companies are naturally not favouring it. Deployment of such a solution and re-verification of entire customer base will not only require huge investment, manpower, management but telcos are likely to lose millions of millions of customers.
It maybe recalled that Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom are long working on a biometric solution for verification of cellular subscribers.
When deployed, the system will cross-verify the thumbnail impression of customers with the NADRA records to confirm that subscriber is indeed the CNIC card holder on which he/she is getting the SIM.
Modalities for the deployment of biometric solution is still underway and a committee is working out to figure out the best practices for the biometric solution and its implementation. Committee is likely to submit its proposals with-in two weeks after which the situation about the deployment of biometric system and procedures for re-verification will get clearer.
In a related news, Prime Minister of Pakistan has directed the PTA to get 4.5 million unregistered SIMs blocked. It is still unclear that how this figure of 4.5 million was determined and that what process was adopted to figure out if SIMs were indeed unregistered.