Exclusive: Not All Unverified SIMs are Blocked

Unlike what Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and cellular companies of Pakistan have claimed, not all biometrically unverified SIMs are blocked, we have double checked.

According to ProPakistani findings, there are certain SIMs that were never verified but they are still operational. ProPakistani has a list of such unverified but operational SIMs available with it.

When PTA was asked about these unverified numbers, it said that it is impossible for any un-verified SIM to be operational after the entire re-verification exercise. Later on, when ProPakistani provided one of the SIM number to regulator as a proof, it said that all efforts will be made to rectify the issue.

ProPakistani has list of unverified SIMs that are still operational

ProPakistani — in a good faith — believes that these unverified SIMs were left unblocked due to technical glitches or system errors. However, it can get extremely pricey if these unverified SIMs — and other similar SIMs about which we don’t know — were not blocked and left operational on purpose.

An IT expert having first-hand knowledge of telecom networks while speaking with ProPakistani said that it is possible for few un-verified SIMs to be still active and working when millions of un-verified SIMs were blocked in batch mode.

In a good faith, it is believed that these unverified SIMs were left unblocked due to technical glitches or system errors. If so, this must be rectified

“While it is very unlikely, but yes it is possible for certain SIMs to remain operational even when they were blocked from the system-end mainly because of hardware, software or communication errors”, he opined.

Another IT expert told ProPakistani that telecom companies should have deployed fail-over solutions to cross-check the the ultimate termination of each un-verified SIM, which apparently they didn’t do. However, they still can! There are procedures and tools available to telecom companies to ensure that each un-verified SIM is fully terminated.

Background of SIM Re-Verification

After Peshawar attack on December 16th, 2014, a national action plan was finalized according to which all prepaid SIMs in Pakistan were to be verified through biometric verification system, while all unverified SIMs were to be blocked after the deadline.

PTA, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Information Technology and all cellular operators agreed to set a time-limit of 90 days as deadline for re-verification of SIMs after which all un-verified SIMs were to be blocked. PTA issued an SOP under which the entire re-verification process was carried and exercise was completed on April 12th, 2015.

After the completion of first deadline, Ministry of Interior granted cellular companies a grace-period of 30 days to complete the re-verification of white list (that had one SIM per Customer per CNIC per CMO) till May 15th, 2015.

On May 16th, after extended deadline finished, PTA announced that telecom operators had blocked all un-verified SIMs and that not a single un-verified SIM is active in the entire country.

What Next?

PTA told ProPakistani that an undertaking was signed by all CEOs of cellular operators in this regard in which they explicitly mentioned that all un-verified SIMs were blocked. According to PTA, CEOs signed such undertaking twice and a copy was dispatched to Ministry of Interior for the records.

With such undertakings from CEOs, telecom companies should have cent percent ensured that all un-verified SIMs were fully blocked and that no communication activity, in whatever way, is allowed to/from such unverified SIMs.

They still should, otherwise we all know how ugly it can get.

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