While hearing CMPak (Zong) application for the removal of 5 SIMS restrictions per CNIC, the Supreme Court of Pakistan here on Thursday gave verdict in favor of CMPak (Zong) and removed the restriction by allowing maximum of three Data SIMs on top of five Voice SIMs per CNIC.
Zong was contesting the case for removal of 5 SIM per CNIC limit and allowance of any number of data SIMs, however, Supreme Court — during a hearing today — said that one CNIC holder can not retain more than 5 voice SIMs and 3 data SIMs at one time.
Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, which was also a party in the case, maintained that since all old and new SIMs issued are now are biometrically verified and each and every SIM is associated with a living individual so this limit of 5 voice SIMs per CNIC should be removed.
PTA said that it won’t have any issues if this limit is removed, however, other stakeholders, such as law enforcement agencies, should also be taken on-board before removing the limit.
PTA also submitted that Wireless Local Loop operators — such as PTCL — are allowed to issue three data SIMs on single CNIC.
While speaking on this decision Niaz A. Malik, Deputy CEO CMPak (Zong) said, “We are satisfied with the decision given by the honorable Supreme Court of Pakistan. This decision will surely cast a positive impression on businesses of the telecom industry of Pakistan. Being the only 3G and 4G operator, we take pride to lead the industry for its goodness”. “We are taking this decision as an initial success and CMPak (Zong) will continue to reshape the Pakistani markets as a digital leader with its huge investment in 4G. Our cutting edge technology provided our users with unique satisfactory experience compare to other available platforms”, he concluded.
Detailed judgment on the issue was reserved and will be issued at a later time.
It maybe recalled that Supreme Court of Pakistan had confined the limit of maximum of 5 SIMs per CNIC due to security reasons back in 2012 when anonymous SIMs, without any registrations were used in terrorist activities.
But since the situation changed after biometric verification drive with each and every SIM registered against a CNIC, operators thought that this limit could be removed.
The cell phone operators believed that the decision had caused massive cut in their sales and revenues.
This ban was hurting the operators, especially after the auction 3G/4G as they were not able to sell even the data SIMs due to the restriction of 5 SIMs per CNIC. Not to mention, data SIMs cannot receive inbound calls or make an outbound call, making it impossible for the SIMs to be used in any terrorist activity.
After the decision, mobile phone companies will continue to keep the cap on voice SIMs, however, they will be allowed to sell three additional data SIMs per CNIC.
Just in case if you wondering, mobile phone companies were pushing for removal of maximum limit, especially from data SIMs, due to increased number of gadgets such as tablets, laptops, smartphones, Dongles, IP cameras, IP phones, tracking devices etc. that require data SIMs for internet connectivity. and with time, the need for more data SIMs per individual will only increase.