[the citizen] Mobile phone subscribers who will fail to register their SIM cards by the end of this year, will be locked out of the country�s communication system, the communications regulator revealed yesterday.
"Come January 1, 2010, unregistered subscribers will not be able to dial, receive phone calls or send and receive messages using their mobile phones," Ms Connie Francis, a senior Information and Communications development officer of the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (Tcra), told The Citizen yesterday.
The registration process, she said begins on Wednesday next week.
Subscribers will be given six-months to register their SIM cards with their respective mobile operators.
"After the grace period, those who will not have done so, will only access mobile communication services after securing registration," she said at the Public Service exhibitions, noting that the registration process is mandatory to new and existing subscribers.
The registration exercise is meant to control misuse of mobile phones by unscrupulous people who buy SIM cards, and then discard them soon after using them to send insulting and life-threatening messages to other people.
At the moment, SIM cards are purchased cheaply or given free of charge on the streets.
Since users are not registered, it has always been easy for criminals to misuse the cards.
Tcra is expected to hold a press conference later this week to explain how it intends to undertake the registration exercise and its benefits.
So far, samples of forms containing details that subscribers will be required to provide for their names to be entered into the databases of their mobile operators, have been prepared.
"Our duty as regulator is to set standards, but actual registration will be done by the operators�the forms are designed in such a way that they will contain a Tcra marks and any vital information required for the registration process. It will, however, be up to the operator to decide on the colour for the forms," she intoned.
The Government is determined to enact a law that will oblige mobile telephone companies to have their subscribers registered. "I hope the law will have been passed by the National Assembly by November this year," said Ms Francis.
About 13 million SIM cards are currently in use in Tanzania, where six companies compete. Two more are in the last stages of rolling out their mobile services in a country of about 40 million people.
TCRA reminder to phone subscribers