Bangladesh to cut off unregistered mobile phones
Bangladesh's mobile telephone operators must deactivate more than one million unregistered SIM cards from Sunday as deadline for registration ended last night, telecoms watchdog officials said.
"There won't be any new extension of the deadline, and the unidentified SIMs must be deactivated," said a senior official at Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission.
For years operators in the South Asian country have been allowed to sell the cards without asking to see identification and registering the purchaser's personal details.
But last year the government introduced new regulations requiring personal details to be recorded for security concerns.
The industry regulator ordered mobile operators in August 2007 to re-register customers who bought connections before February 28, 2006.
It later extended the deadline four times to May 31 to give the operators more time to plan for the change.
The country has more than 40 million SIM cards in operation.
Although nearly half of Bangladesh's more than 140 million people still live on less than a dollar a day, the country has been one of the world's fastest growing cellular markets, with a mobile penetration rate of more than 26 percent.
Grameenphone, majority owned by Norway's Telenor, leads the market with nearly 18 million subscribers followed by Egyptian Orascom Telecom's Banglalink with more than 8.5 million.
Others operators included AKTEL, majority owned by Telekom Malaysia International; CityCell, a joint venture between Pacific Bangladesh Telecom Limited and Singapore's SingTel; Warid Telecom of the United Arab Emirates and state-run Teletalk.