A new electronic SIM registration system has been launched to block the use of unregistered cellular connections by criminals. And in the three days since the system was enforced as many as forty thousand verification requests were rejected.
The new automated procedure for sale of mobile SIMs was enforced from April 1 but it was formally launched by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and the four cellular mobile operators on Tuesday.
“The days of walking into call centres with photocopies of identity cards filling out cellular subscriber agreement forms and the wait to get the SIM activated are history. Customers can now purchase a SIM and activate it from the comfort of their homes in half hour to two hours,” said a spokesman for a cellphone service provider.
According to the new security check system, subscribers` documentation would be maintained electronically instead of taking down their details on paper (that more often than not contained mistakes or inaccurate information) and pre-sale would be automated linking it with already automated post-sale procedure called 789.
Under the new procedure, only original CNIC would be required to be presented at any registered sale point to buy a new SIM along with terms and conditions document in the SIM jacket. The sale personnel would send the CNIC of the customer to a short code to authenticate the sale.
“Customer can then dial 789 to connect with the cellular company`s helpline who will confirm if the person calling for the activation is in fact the same person who presented the original ID card to purchase the SIM,” said an official of another company.
Although, customers` records would be maintained by the respective cellular companies, the process is centralised and data shared with Nadra for verification.
According to PTA, SIMs sold through registered sale channels only would be activated after calling 789, responding to asked questions – mother`s name and date of birth etc – agreement to the terms conditions and declaration that the SIM would not be misused.
“The new system would not only help eliminate the misuse of CNIC copies but would also facilitate in keeping authentic record of SIMs sale and enabling track of sale channels in case of any misuse,” said an official in PTA.
Chairman PTA Dr Mohammad Yaseen, who visited call centres of different mobile companies for inaugurating the commercial launch of the project, was briefed about the arrangements made in this regard.