‘SIMs will only be activated after biometric verification after 31st’

AFP

KARACHI: Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on Thursday announced through print media ‘mobile SIMs in Sindh and Balochistan will only be activated through Biometric SIM Verification System as an alternative of dialing 789 after March 31, 2014.
PTA through public advertisement in major newspaper informed stakeholders in compliance to Government of Pakistan’s (GoP)’s orders the SIM activation system will be revised from April 1, 2014 in Sindh and Balochistan.
In this regard PTA considering most volatile security situation of two provinces has decided to activate any SIM that will be bought from the Sindh and Balochistan are to be activated only through recently launched Biometric SIM Verification System.
PTA advised customers the new mobile connections should only be purchased from the Biometric System equipped customer service centres or through franchise of cellular operators after April 1, 2014.
Further PTA mentions the SIMs, which are bought before the said date would also be activated only via Biometric System. The duplicate SIMs, replacement, supplementary connections and all other customer services will only be done through the Biometric System after April 1, 2014 across Sindh and Balochistan.
Earlier PTA asked all cellular operators to install Biometric System at their customer service centres, franchises and retail shops by the end of February 2014. On this decision by PTA, industry sources have shown severe concerns and fearing sudden drop of sales of SIMs ahead of next generation technologies. Sources said in such a big city like Karachi where more than 20 to 30 percent customer service centres have not been equipped with the Biometric SIM Verification System, this could be not a easy task.
Thus, in remote areas of interior Sindh and Balochistan, how can one access easily to the Biometric System ready franchise or customer service centres as the majority of SIMs are sold at small retail shops.
Sources said the decision would not bode well for the already struggling telecom industry with lower revenues as wrongdoers could buy SIMS from Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) if they want.
However, PTA will definitely term this restriction mandatory for Punjab and KPK in the offing as GoP asked PTA to deploy the Biometric SIM Verification System to foil terrorism and criminal activities. In this regard PTA asked telecom companies to install this system on about 70,000 to 75,000 retail shops across the country.
The mobile companies showing apathy have not been succeeded abiding this order of the regulator as yet. Sources said Postpaid connections which are only available on any company’s franchises are also being issued without Biometric Verification System despite the previous direction of PTA. 

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