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Telecoms operators bar 10.7m defective SIMs from networks


SIM CARD. Photo credit wikipedia

SIM CARD. Photo credit wikipedia

IT is not just a threat anymore. Holders of pre-registered Subscribers Identification Modules (SIM) cards on the network of mobile network operators in the country must lose the privilege of access to and use of the network to stamp out this illegality.

So far, the deactivation exercise has led to the blocking of 10.7 million lines in the last two weeks.

By implication, 10.7 million people who own these lines have been blocked from either making or receiving calls until they are able to regularise their details.

According to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), from the about 38.78 million SIM cards found to be defective in terms of improper registration details including poor finger prints, zero facial information and other biometric challenges, the operators, after strict monitoring from the commission have been able to bar about 10.7 million SIMs.

Speaking in Lagos, yesterday, NCC’s Head of Compliance and Monitoring Unit, Efosa Idehen, said the commission has since the expiration of the August 11 ultimatum given to operators, has been ensuring compliance.

Idehen disclosed that in September 2014, NCC discovered that from the SIM data the operators sent to the commission for hamonisation, some of them were defective and had to be returned to the operators for proper checks.

According to him, about 18.6 million SIM data were sent back to MTN Nigeria; 7. 49 million to Airtel; 2.23 million to Globacom and 10.46 million to Etisalat.

Idehen, however, said the monitoring exercise done recently by the NCC showed that operators are partially committed to the exercise.

According to him, out of the about 18.6 million SIM registration data found to be defective on MTN network, only about 1.6 million have been barred. He explained that what MTN actually did was to put the affected subscribers on “Receive Calls Only,” which means the subscribers cannot put a call through to another network.

“With this there was no compliance from MTN. During our visit to Airtel, the telecommunications service had fully barred 2.3 million from it network. These were SIM data found to be incomplete. At Globacom, 3.5 million lines have been barred also from its network.

“Globacom gave assurance of 24 hours to deactivate other lines found to be defective on their networks. Etisalat has barred 3.3 million and promised that within 24 hours, others found to be challenging will be removed totally from the networks,” he stated.

The NCC enforcement chief said the directive given to the operators was that they should bar any line found to have incomplete registration and later urged the affected subscribers to complete their registration.

Idehen said the commission, after due consultation with the National Security Adviser (NSA) and other stakeholders in the industry agreed that pre-registered SIMs and others found to be defective should be deactivated.

He stressed that henceforth operators will be required to send correct data for hamonisation to the regulator.

Idehen, who ruled out sabotage on the part of the operators, disclosed that there will be sanctions as stipulated by SIM Card Registration Code, Section 19 to 21, where it was stated that per SIM found defective on the network, erring operator will be made to pay N200, 000.

Commenting more on the process, Head, SIM Registration Project, Bashiru Idris, said the operators and their agents are supposed to ensure proper biometric capturing of any of the subscribers including finger prints and facial outlook.

According to him, the N6.1 billion registration done by the commission was to ensure proper data base gathering.

“What we did then was to hire about seven consultants to work within a stipulated time and after they completed their term of service within the framework of the exercise, we started the hamonisation with what the operators had. The data we found to be defective were sent back to the operators for proper checks.”

Idris said affected subscribers should get their details right, stressing that there should be no buying of pre-registered SIMs and that anybody caught doing that should be reported to the authorities.

Already, the NCC had in a statement clarified perceived misunderstanding in its earlier directive for telecoms operators to deactivate unregistered SIMs on their network.

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