Friday, January 30, 2009

Pakistan - blocking 11 millions mobile phones

Pakistan telecom body blocks 11m mobile connections

The Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) has blocked 11.15 million mobile connections in the current drive to discourage illegal use of subscriber identity modules (SIMs), official sources said here yesterday.

These connections were blocked as subscribers were issued SIMs without verification of their computerised national identity cards (CNICs) or they had more than ten connections on single CNIC in violation of the

PTA policy

The data of the mobile phone subscribers by November 30, 2008 has been verified through Nadra (National Database and Registration Agency) and 8.23 million unverified connections were blocked by the PTA. Moreover, as per the policy of 10 connections on one CNIC, 2.92 million connections have been blocked.

In order to meet the growing demand for mobile services, Cellular Mobile Telephony Operators (CMTOs) have significantly expanded their distribution channels to increase their sales without much focus on verification of subscribers’ antecedents, which resulted in heightened concerns for law-enforcement agencies.

To address the situation, PTA adopted a series of procedures in consultation with the operators and enforcement agencies. It was observed that the mobile phone operators kept increasing their sales without properly verifying consumers’ antecedents.

A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) was issued on June 28, 2005 on the subject where mobile companies were required to get their data verified through Nadra database and issue new connection after due verification.

In May 2007, a strict directive was issued by PTA having split the verification in two parts — new connection sale and cleaning of old data — with clear deadlines for mobile operators to complete the task. As a result, an adequate amount of old data was cleaned through Nadra database and considerable improvement observed in new connections sales through the franchisees only

In January 2008, IT and Telecom Ministry issued a policy directive under section 8(2) of the Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-organization) Act 1996, which replicates the procedure already in place for verification of mobile subscribers’ antecedents.

In light of the policy directive, a revised standing operating procedure (SOP) was issued in line with the existing policy for immediate implementation by the cellular mobile operators.

To ensure the implementation of SOP, a number of measures were initiated which included meetings with law-enforcement officers, business communities, sales representatives and conduct of countrywide surveys/inspections through PTA zonal offices. About 106 raids were conducted, and 853 franchisees and 4108 retailers inspected.

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