Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has announced that no cellular SIM in Balochistan and Sindh will be activated without biometric verification after April 1st, 2014.
Move is aimed at curbing unregistered and unverified SIMs in the country, that are arguably the main cause of more than 80 percent of criminal and terrorism related activities in Pakistan.
As per PTA’s SOP, a customer has to present his/her CNIC to sales’ representative of cellular companies before making a purchase of SIM. After which customer will have to record the thumb impression which will be matched – in real time – with NADRA’s database.
After successful match of thumb impression with NADRA’s record, the customer will be issued a new activated SIM.
This way, no customer will be able to purchase new SIM on CNIC that is fake or doesn’t belong to the customer.
SIM activation through 789 will be discontinued after this.
Not to mention, SIM replacement of old connections will also be done through biometric verification of SIMs.
Earlier, cellular companies commenced the biometric verification of SIMs through their in-house service centres and company franchises.
As per earlier plan, 789 system was to be fully replaced with biometric verification system. However, due to increased security situation, PTA has now directed that biometric system is to be fully operational in two provinces. KPK and Punjab are to join the league in near future too.
Biometric verification system is likely to be rolled out at around 75,000 outlets throughout the country.
15,000 outlets are going to be common for all mobile operators, i.e. non-exclusive retailers who will sell SIMs of multiple companies. Biometric devices – that are going to cost around 35,000 per unit – on these 15,000 common outlets is going to be funded by USF after BoD approvals, while other outlets are likely to share the equipment cost with their respective operators.
Cellular companies are going to invest over Rs. 2 billion on the deployment of biometric verification system.
It won’t be out of place to mention here that even after full-scale deployment of biometric verification system is not going to guarantee cent percent elimination of unregistered and unverified SIMs. Just because 130 million active SIMs aren’t fully verified, and that biometric verification system will only help straighten the new sales only.
For complete elimination of unregistered and unverified SIMs from market, PTA – in collaboration with cellular operators – has to ensure that each and every SIM (i.e. all currently operating SIMs too) are re-verified through biometric verification system.
Check below print ad that PTA published in major news papers: