Telcos Have 17 Million Biometric Verified SIMs as of Today!

Mobile phone companies in Pakistan have collectively verified 17 million SIMs with newly installed biometric verification system through the natural process since it was made mandatory in August 2014, we have checked with sources.

Not to mention, SIMs in Sindh and Balochistan were being verified through biometric verification system since April 1st, 2014.

These 17 million biometric verified SIMs include new sales, SIM replacements and MNP requests that were entertained only after biometric verification of customer.

It won’t be out of place to mention here that a customer who verifies his/her identity for a single SIM issuance then all other SIMs on his/her CNIC are automatically verified, to take the total count to 17 million verified SIMs.

Additionally, 0.1 million new subscribers are being added every day through BVS, which means 3 million subscribers are naturally verified through biometric verification system every month.

If not halted or disturbed or pushed, this natural process of verifying customers through biometric verification system will take less than 3 years to re-verify each and every customer in the country.

Sohaib Sheikh, an expert on telecom matters, said that a cellular SIM has a limited life and is bound to be re-placed by the customer after a certain duration.

He said that for majority of customers (i.e. for more than 90% customers) a SIM has to be replaced for various reasons including stolen phone, SIMs lost, MNP requests or just because SIMs get too scratched and becomes unusable.

He opined that since the process is in place and there is no way of getting a SIM replacement without biometric verification of customer, the natural process will automatically ensure that more than 90% of customers will be reverified in less than three years. That is, without a dedicated drive for reverification of customers.

Not to be mentioned, since the rule of maximum of 5 SIMs on single CNIC is in place, there is a huge chunk of subscriptions that get washed-out automatically as customers get their old unused numbers blocked at time time of issuance of new SIMs if the SIM-count on single CNIC exceed the limit.

Clearly, the present system will re-verify all customers with-in next few years and while we also know that cent-percent reverification of SIMs will not decrease terrorism or crimes, it is now up to the government that how do they want this to happen: In 28 days with a lot of investment and hassle involved with no help in reducing terrorism or in 2-3 years through a natural process that will yield them the same results.

Tech and telecom reporter with over 15 years of experience, he works as founder of ProPakistani.PK

  • do a dedicated drive these companies are already sucking dry there customers, there must be a dedicated drive not in 28 days but in 3 to 6 months, not for reducing terrorism but for streamlining the record, it might not help in reducing terrorism at international levels but might help to reduce small crimes and kidnappings , Lets go for dedicated drive

  • 17 million SIMS out of approximately 140~150 million total mobile users in Pakistan. This mean only 11~12% subscribers are verified rest of the 88~89% SIMS need to be verified. I think GOP should allow the Telecom Operators to verify all such SIMS from Nadra free of cost and give them a reasonable time to perform this activity.

    Secondly PTA with help of Telcos should categorize users who have more than one SIM on same CNIC. Target on CNICs having more than one SIM registered. This will allow them to close this activity in lesser time.

    Telecom Operators should also take one step ahead and close all the SIMS which have not been used for either outgoing or incoming calls, sms and data for the last 30~60 days. I guess currently 90~120 days policy in being followed. This might be a difficult task since all Telcos want to retain their inactive sims for longer time and they even give huge amount of free airtime for inactive users to keep their subscriber count higher.

    Telecom Operators should also run an awareness campaign to ask their users to block their sims either they are going abroad or their sim is being stolen.

    Having said all this, once all this is done then GOP needs to ensure no one will use mobile for negative purpose and no service outage will be forced on Telcos during important events across nation.

  • This argument that since verification of SIMs will not stop 100% terrorism so its not urgent to do it, is flawed.

    Its like saying that a school kid didn’t do his homework, but its ok because homework is not 100% of the final grade.

    These rich telecom companies want to save money. They don’t care if people die due to terrorism and crime (in which unregistered SIMs play an important part)

    Unregistered SIM cards are used in all terror attacks and their planning. Terrorists communicate with each other using mobile phones. Its is very important that the security agencies know exactly who is the owner of this SIM.

    Besides terrorism, a number of crimes can be stopped, reduced or criminals can be caught by looking at the SIM card information.

    Now that finally government is getting serious about terrorism, these telco companies are just trying to save money and avoid work. It is their fault in the first place that these SIMs are not registered. If you can’t register it, or the customer is not coming to your service center himself, just block the SIM. But you will not do it because you will loose money. For you people dying from terrorism is fine, but loosing money is not.

    ProPakistani, freedom of expression is important, but please don’t give space to these apologists and propaganda writers for the rich telecom companies.

    Edit: just saw the writer name and its apparently Aamir Atta himself.

  • Immediately, Cancel all unregistered sims isuued within sensitive areas e.g. peshawar, karachi, fata, islamabad, jhang, quetta etc. Most probably, militants got their sims in these regions.

  • Why should the general public pay for the flawed policies of telecom operators? They made the mess by issuing SIMs without any verification in a mad drive to get cellular subscribers, now they should pay for it…
    Lack of government regulation/will also played a huge part in this mess.

  • Sorry, but have to disagree. I’ve used over 30 carriers worldwide, and been to several countries and NEVER ONCE HAVE I WITNESSED ANYONE complaining that their SIM isn’t working due to scratches.

    I’ve seen people in Pakistan, UAE and UK using 8-12 year old SIMs. Infact one of my friend is using 3G on a Paktel SIM issued in 2007 (10 years old!)

    Several people don’t replace SIMs, and if you check the actual record I bet over 50% of the connections by telecom companies haven’t been reissued/renewed/MNP’s in the past 5 – 8 years.

    I don’t know what this article is trying to imply, but I respectfully disagree, as there’s no way even 30% of the active connections can be reissued/verified in 3 years BY ITSELF.

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