Telcos to Lose 50% of Subscriptions after Re-Verifications, ARPUs to Get Doubled

More than 50% SIMs or around 50-55 million subscriptions are going to be cleaned-up once the on-going SIM re-verification drive is completed, told us market experts, officials of cellular companies and high-ups of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.

While majority of experts and officials admitted that its too early to speculate anything, but they were certain that at least 50% subscriptions will be wiped out after April 14th, 2015.

Sohaib Sheikh, a senior telecom expert, explained that there will be two type of SIM cancellations after the deadline. 1-those SIMs that are not in the possession of verifying customers or such SIMs that legitimate customers don’t use any more, 2-those subscribers who won’t be able to make it to service centres/retailers till April 13th, 2015 for biometric re-verification and their SIMs will get blocked by the system.

Those who, somehow, will not be able to make it to the service centres/retailers will be given a chance (of 180 days) to get their blocked numbers re-opened after bio-metric verification, added Mr. Sheikh.

Decrement in number of SIMs should not be taken as a reduction in telecom customers

According to a an official working with a telecom company, who wanted to remain unnamed, the deadline of three months for re-verification of entire subscription base — that telcos built in a decade and half — itself means that telcos will be pushed a few years back. “I won’t be surprised if telcos lose 50 million or even more subscribers after the deadline”, added the official.

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There is no other option for telcos at this point in time, and telcos will have to do it — once and for all, said a PTA high-up.

According to this PTA official, decrement in number of SIMs should not be taken as a reduction in telecom customers as those who are using telecom services won’t just quit them because their SIM got blocked. “Legitimate users will get their SIMs verified, one way or the other”, said the PTA official.

In his opinion, it would be better for the industry to have only legitimate SIMs in their records, the ones that are active, the ones that generate revenue.

If this logic is to be believed, then over-all revenues of telcos might not get a notable hit other than the cost they will have to bear for SIM re-verifications. Or put in other words, Pakistani market after April 14th, 2015 will mean: same number of revenues from almost half of the subscriptions or two times of market ARPU than what we have today.

PR head of a cellular company approved that proposition of doubled ARPUs and half of subscriptions will interest investors more. “Pakistani market will look a lot more lucrative to telecom investors with these new dynamics, especially when more than 2 million individuals are reaching their 18th birthday every year”, he added.

Doubled ARPUs and half of subscriptions will make Pakistan look like a lot more lucrative market

Not to mention, PTA is planning to auction the left-over spectrum (that remained unsold in previous auction) somewhere around late 2016 and these new market stats will become vital for investors to make their decisions for Pakistani market.

Nonetheless, with 50% cut in subscribers, telcos are set to lose stock value and their positions in group standings. We can’t say that 30 million customers and 15 million customers are same for a cellular company, regardless of the fact that revenues in both situations remain the same.

Half customers — with almost same revenues — will also reveal the fact that how Pakistani telcos were elevating sales’ figures for the reports they used to send to their group headquarters. Such shiny reports served as a job security and regular commission for countless people in industry. This will change after April 14th, 2015.

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


  • Ejaz

    Rightly said the ARPUs will go double which will change the overall outlook of cellular industry….. but fact is all CCOs will be in firing line as they are responsible for mislead cellular operators into this fake subscribers race which cost company billions of rupees…. all the packages these people were offering to customers who where keep these SIMs in wallet and the A&P spending…. CCOs, be ready for the change.

    • speciest

      How do you propose they should grow if not by signing on more subscribers? They certainly are not going to start educating the ignorant masses on the benefits of the Internet so that they can sell more data plans. Looking at their websites it’s obvious they themselves don’t know how to use the web properly!

  • Usman Ahmed

    the sales & service centres are not equipped at handling the amount of people turning up for sim verification. I tried today at 9am and there was no palce to stand in the service centrer.

  • Usman Ahmed

    govt just wants the people to make queues every where. be it a petrol pump or a mobile service provider. Instead of increasing their suecrity, they try to blame everything on mobiles/sims. Advanced countries allow people to buy disposable sims without any kind of verification at all.

    • speciest

      You are forgetting queues in front of NADRA offices. Lots of people with expired CNICs are having to line up, shove and bribe their way through. It must be like Eid for the parasites working at NADRA.

      • Usman Ahmed

        and passport office!

    • raja riaz

      in those countries terrorism not exists so they are easy to facilitate their public,

      • Usman Ahmed

        and terrorism is caused by SIMS? and the only way to prevent terrorism is to shut down phone systems? only nooras can believe that

  • JahanZaib Yousaf

    It would be nice if ProPakistani can arrange total customer by operator till 2014 December and then after re verification of sims.

    just to see who has high percentage of invalid sims.

    • aamir7

      We will know such stats after a while, its too early to get this data at the moment.

      • JahanZaib Yousaf

        sure
        thanks

    • guest

      mobilink/telenor must have more illegal sims than others.

      • raja riaz

        2 illegal sims are in my possession , never blocked both are without any owner any cnic. so what is guarantee after 26 feb 2015 all other sims will be blocked? telco companies never happy to lose their customer , how much sims PTA will check from telcos system? jab tak telcos sanjeeda na hon PTA kuch nai kr sakta

  • faaria

    what if someone makes a fake biometric machine or hack it so it also saves the thumb impression while verification. then they use that copied thumb impressions to commit crimes or verify fake sims on someone’s name. So my question is that is govt really ensuring security or providing more loopholes to terrorists?

    • JahanZaib Yousaf

      Well nothing is impossible
      but i really doubt that terrst k pass itna knowledge ho ga unless big parties do it like CiA or others

      • raja riaz

        franchises ka staff bohat kuch kar sakta hai. peshawar school killers ke pass biomatric generated verified sims thein jo unhein kissi franchise waly meherban ne hi di thein

    • Ahmed Habib

      There must be system between the telcos and NADRA. If someone built a machine, lets suppose, now how will he verify SIM? First the call will goto NADRA then he needs to get in to the telcos system. If he steels the telcos machine they will surely report to the NADRA then that machine will be of no use, though the NADRA server can be hacked as well as telcos server. But i still feel there is complez system intact.

      • faaria

        1.Take a biometric machine
        2. Go to a remote area and represent yourself as official retailer
        3. Take fingerprints of few people save in your device. just keep telling them their sim has been activated they’ll get confirmation message in 24 hours
        4. Just keep those fingerprints and disappear form the area.

        • XYZ

          Its not that simple ma’am, we all know that even Pentagon’s site can be hacked, so you are right every thing is possible in IT world, but telcos have taken significant measures and checks to avoid giving an easy loop hole to the seekers.

        • Ahmed Habib

          1. Finger print scanners?
          2, 3, 4. Oky done, then how will you use those finger prints in the bvs machine? Any 3d thumb finger printing? I don’t know if there is any such sophisticated machine out there to print complez thumb impressions in 3d? Also note that the machine also has scensors to detect real thumb and not the dummy. ;-)

          Your plan failed, next?

          • faaria

            watch “MythBusters Fingerprints Busted” video.
            Fooling a fingerprint scanner is easier than you think. It can be done just by photocopy of your fingerprint

            • Ahmed Habib

              I still not able to agree with you unless I see any example of such issuance of SIM in Pakistan or worldwide. Maybe you are accurate here as nothing is impossible.

              • faaria

                few days back ProPakistani published an article that SIMs used in Peshawar attacks were issued via BVS system. Franchise manager used to take thumb impression 3 times , gave 1 to customer, sold other 2 SIMs in Rs. 2500. Story was covered in news channels. That’s how terrorists can still manipulate system and get SIMs on gunpoint or by offering heavy money.
                So here is one little example.

                • Bilal Iqbal

                  To stop this loop hole. NAdra implemented 30 minut gap between two continuous sim verifications by same person. However if one try fails. U can try next.but if successf. Have yo wait 30 minuts for next verification. The above method was misuse of system and was addressed immediately.

                  • faaria

                    hmmm.. glad to know that NADRA is putting a lot of effort in this. but our actual issue is not with NADRA. everyone knows NADRA among best organizations of our country. Did i ever say NADRA is not a competent organization? stop feeling offended… my concern was about the problems we had to face due to all that fuzz about verifying 100 million customers in a short period… because for some old people its almost impossible to wait in such long queues in NADRA office and franchise. No separate Queues for ladies either… I know many girls and old people who have decided to let their SIMs blocked instead of doing all that effort.. I’ll have to lose a SIM too because i’m currently living in Kuwait and can’t visit Pak before deadline

                    • Bilal Iqbal

                      Of course..i do respect your opinion and also think about these people but some time…due to shortage of staff or excess crowd..we become unable to serve females and senior citizens sapetately… ( real face of over population in Pakistan). And for SIM not verified now..there are further 180 days time to get replacement…this is a good step but taken very late..if SIM were sold RESPECTFULLY rather than selling like cookies in shops ..there was no need ti go through this exercise…

    • Bilal Iqbal

      Khair hy…? Biometric machines are prepared outside the pakistan and u can purchase them.. those will be real…now about Hacking is a joke…it is done by NADRA where system security at servers is at extreme importance…and softwares under use are liceneed by foreign top companies…so dont worry about it

      • speciest

        Foreign top companies? You mean like microsoft? Windows is infamous for its poor security. Foreign companies are notorious for being NSA whores. There is no security if you have to rely on outsiders. You need your own skilled workforce but even the IT minister has admitted that they don’t have skilled IT professionals. This is not surprising because who will want to work in a government department when he can earn dollars?

        You don’t have to hack nadra to get fake SIMs. The peshawar attackers had biometric SIMs. You just have to bribe a few people. The going rate is Rs. 5000 or $50 per SIM which is peanuts in the grand scheme of things.

        If you want a SIM in a particular person’s name you just lift their fingerprints of whatever surface or object they last touched. People think biometrics is some super secure futuristic technology. It isn’t. It’s extremely insecure because people leave their fingerprints on everything they touch.

        In the end it all boils down to the honesty of the people in charge and we all know they are not honest at all. Remember that old computing concept – garbage in garbage out or GIGO for short. If the liveware in charge inputs fake data then what can the computer do?

        • Bilal Iqbal

          Windows in servers (lol). A mix of security tools is being used keeping in view the senstive nature of data to be secured. As far as controlling terrorism through SIMs …i totally agree with you that unless we do our work with honesty..we will have to bear our own deeds…

      • Munaeem Jamal

        Teredata may be secure. But people can hack your data.

        • Bilal Iqbal

          Not only teradata but biometric system is handled by vendor…well known brand in ID world

          • Munaeem Jamal

            Well known brands have been hacked.

            • Bilal Iqbal

              Very well said sir but we do our level best to protect this important data collection..

      • faaria

        watch “MythBusters Fingerprints Busted” video.
        Fooling a fingerprint scanner is easier than you think. It can be done just by photocopy of your fingerprint

        • Bilal Iqbal

          Not so easy? What it does requires is alot more..because u just saw movies and we deal with 200 people daily.scanners are designed for living piving persons requiring blood circulation. Static objects are of different nature require other types of scanners. Even dead person’s fingerprints are not captureable in normal scanners

          • faaria

            systems using heat or pulse sensors can be fooled by a gelatin print mold over a real finger. I’m not saying that normal person would try to do it.. but if the purpose of all this exercise is to stop terrorists then they already have access to latest technology through black markets.. Propakistani also published article that crime rate didn’t get lower in countries where BVS verification of SIMS is mandatory. So its another decision of govt. where they try to make awam khawar instead of solving the real problems

            • Bilal Iqbal

              I know well about Hack of iPhone Touch ID in which synthetic meterials were used in 3D printing of fingerprints scanned at 1200 dpi…but that was a different case…as far as terrorism is concerned…it can only be controlled if we as nation avoid from corruption and fullfill our responsiblities at our own level … as a citizen or as a professional…

              • faaria

                for this answer.. i agree with you….

  • Zain

    SIMs registered with B-Form are also legitimate customers. How will they get reverified their SIMs?

  • Munaeem Jamal

    There are large numbers of subscribers who have valid CNICs but failed to verify their SIMS because of problem in database or poor quality thumb impression in NADRA’s system,

    I am one of those subscriber. My CNIC will expire on Apr 2016.

    • Bilal Iqbal

      Go to nadra office. Ur fingerprints would be updated free
      ..

      • Munaeem Jamal

        Thanks for information.

      • ahmed

        Nadra has failed to update the finger prints after I was referred there by the telco , their machines were unable to get a finger scan which could be validated.
        Now neither nadra nor the telco knows what to do next.
        Anyone has any idea how the sim can be verified now ?

        • Bilal Iqbal

          If there is quality issue then as per pta sop…nadra would establish a backup mechanism. Till then.. wait..

      • Munaeem Jamal

        NADRA Offices are not paying attention to users who need finger print updation. They are already loaded with work. I went to Gulshan and Aisha Manzil offices.

        • Bilal Iqbal

          Sorry for inconvenience. If your Cnic is about to expired or issuance date is prior to 2005 then you may please apply for cnic modification to update biometrics. Some sort of system updation is under process for finger prints problem and people will be treated saperately. Feel free to call at help line 051-111786100 or 7000 from mobile. Thanks

          • Munaeem Jamal

            It means NADRA’s data collected by NSRcs have been corrupted. Why should people bear the cost of the mistake incompetent dataware personnel?

            • Bilal Iqbal

              Sorry sir… but this is not the reality. All data was captured by biometric devices and kept by specific systems. If there are fraction of mismatches then it does not leads to data corruption. Millions of sim,s are verified. How?

          • Munaeem Jamal

            I have been associated in all the stages from Jaffer Bros to NRSCs establishment and distribution in Karachi.

          • Munaeem Jamal

            NADRA’s biometric system failed to verify my wife’s CNIC which was modified on 7/5/2013.

            • Bilal Iqbal

              Some time old age people having insufficient quality finger prints faces such problem because system has limits to accept quality fingerprints and if quality is below given limit. It skips them and relies on foto system. Nadra chairman has directed to open nadra offices on 5th feb 2015 to fecilitate such people free of cast. Thx

  • Muhammad Aamir

    It’s just the beginning of lose. A lot of SIMs which are in FATA and other far away places their verification will be a difficult task. I could guarantee 1 to 2 million (perhaps more) SIMs would be unable to be re-verified. Thanks to the low end servers of NADRA which could not bear a lot of verification at the same time. Am I wrong?

  • Munaeem Jamal

    I think Sales centres should be given access to NADRA’s Verisus too. This used should be used to verify persons who Biometric verification fails.

    • Bilal Iqbal

      No way…biometrics are being updated on priority…verisys ( another 50/- charge)

  • Qaisar Khan

    One Year Ago Propakistani Posted a post in which “How long it will take for 3G to reach through out the country” was discussed in detail.
    Please share this post with me I will be thankful to you :)

  • New

    Entering CNIC no. each time we load a card or easyload is also helpful in decreasing crime rate . e.g *XXX*CNIC no.*Card Number# .

  • Unknown

    Entering CNIC no. each time we load a card or easyload is also helpful in decreasing crime rate . e.g *XXX*CNIC no.*Card Number# .

    • Faiq

      This is ridiculous. It’s like going to extremism.

      • NSN

        Its good step to control crime and terrorism.And the other most important issue of cheap packages by telcos will decrease resulting in better QOS.How could an operator give good QOS when its offering 1000 sms and 250 min free .I think all telcos should have the same packages so that they could only attract users by QOS

        • sam

          Your answer is not satisfactory.

        • speciest

          Widen the digital divide. Let’s go back to the old days when a SIM used to cost Rs. 15,000. Mobile phones should only be for the elite. The masses have no need for productivity enhancing devices. Better for them to remain trapped in poverty. Only then will they be willing to work cheaply for the elite.

          • NSN

            no mr Speciest u ddnt get me. I mean telcos should give better QOS to attract customers.customers.Telenor have packages but QOS is worst call drops and mutes several times ,while Warid has excellent QOS and packages are also in range that any one can afd it.

    • speciest

      CNIC number is not secret you moron

      • Unknown

        Mr. Speciest thora dimagh se soch lo phir samajh ayaegi waisay nahi .

  • zain

    poor performance of our security forces and agencies are now destroying the telecom sector .
    already no one wants to invest in Pakistan (in fact no one want to send their player to play in pakistan for which they will get paid ).
    these kinds of steps will further reduce this

  • Bonga

    The article is full of self contradictions — how “Decrement in number of SIMs should NOT be taken as a reduction in telecom customers”????

    We have been told that Pakistan had 137 million “subscribers.” Then 17 million SIMs got blocked and we were down to 120 million “subscribers.” Now 55 million SIMs will be blocked post-verification and we will be down to 65 million “subscribers.” Please explain how is this not a reduction in “subscribers” or “customers?”

    And enough with the positive spin that double ARPU and reduced subscriber base will make Pakistan more lucrative. If 6 operators (down to 5 now) can only capture 65 million subscribers after being in business since 1995 (20 years) and that too after spending billions of dollars and generating a double ARPU of $4 post SIM Verification, how can this be a lucrative market?

    Of course the CMOs should be fired for posting bogus sales data. Rumor has it that changes are coming at Mobilink and UFone — stay tuned. You first heard it here.

    • Bilal Iqbal

      Dear…it was due to voip business and new sim offers in recent pasts…we were a part of telecom and know well that how important it was to raise Active users in early days…

    • speciest

      It’s called spin. Other names for it are bullshit, diplomatic speak, speaking tactfuly, and double speak. Of course these alternate words have different connotations. Diplomatic speak or speaking tactfully are considered good things. It’s all bullshit really. People in Pakistan love to bullshit. Communicating in a convoluted manner is considered smart and clever in this country.

      Their revenue is going to go down if they go through with blocking all these numbers. I think they will back down from doing that. They will extend the deadline for verification to a year. Maybe longer.

      • Bonga

        You don’t need to sell me on this bro — this is a nation of bullshitters and our people love to spin whatever and whenever they can.

        The SIM verification will go on and without extension. Why?

        Because a lot of political bigwigs, political parties and banned organizations are in the business of grey traffic. This is one aspect of SIM verification that no body publicly speaks of, but efforts are on to cutoff their funding.

  • Abu Zaid

    Saw few users having the Issue of getting thier SIMs verified. Thumb impressions don’t match. Checked with Nadra, they do have correct impressions. Most of the times
    it is with People who work with their hands or old ones. No way to get
    their Finger prints matched, the only solution retailers are giving is
    to transfer the SIMs to someone they know that then use it. The Finger
    printer reader that are being used with Retailer devices are not as
    sophisticated as the ones in Nadra Office, so this is a real problem.

    Also, as PTA states, that Revenues per User will increase. I think if we
    follow the practice and keep re-verification of SIMs over and over again
    we will back to the Golden ERA of 80s, where only one person in the
    whole street or small town would own a PTCL connection :) Same with
    SIMs…..

    As far as assumption that users with multiple SIMs will continue to use the same amount on Single SIM. It might be true for Commercial and Business users, but people like myself who keep multiple carrier SIMs to get In-Network Rates, will not be spending the
    same amount anymore. If I have a Mobilink SIM, and can get 2 hours of unlimited calls @ Rs. 3.50, I am not going to spend Rs. 300 to call Mobilink Numbers from my UFONE SIM (even if I do it once a month). When you are paying per minute rate, you do tend to keep an eye on the watch if call is getting long….

    • speciest

      “the only solution retailers are giving is
      to transfer the SIMs to someone they know that then use it.”

      It is against the law to use a SIM that is in another person’s name. Isn’t that what they say in all their communication materials?

      • Abu Zaid

        So, lets say you have an old Parent who is not able to get his SIM verified with Biometric Verification, would it be OK to lend them your SIM? Just a thought.

  • speciest

    They will back down from their threats to block SIMs. They will extend the deadline for verification or they will say they have blocked the SIMs but not actually do it.

  • Arsalan Shah

    No point in reverifying SIMs at all. If there’s a terrorist who’s just about to suicide himself, will it matter if the SIM’s on his name? Isn’t human life bigger than just a stupid SIM card? If the person doesn’t care about his life, why would he care if the SIM is registered on his name? If Law Enforcing Agencies find out later on that the person whose name it was registered on was a suicide bomber, what can they do? Nothing special at all.