The Government has told the three mobile operators ― Digicel, bmobile-Vodafone and Telikom ― to start registering new subscribers in two weeks’ time.
National Information and Communication Technology Authority chief executive officer Charles Punaha said the information on the SIM cards was necessary to enable the tracing of people abusing the telecommunication system or using it for criminal activities.
Regulations for the registration of SIM cards was approved by Cabinet in July and certified by the State’s First Legislative Counsel on Wednesday.
People who now own mobile phones will have to register their SIM cards with their operators within 18 months. Failure to do that will mean the automatic cancellation of the SIM card.
Punaha said at present, the three operators had no record of what person owns a particular number.
He said since competition began in the mobile phone market, NICTA allocated 10 million numbers to the operators. Six million went to Digicel, two million to Telikom PNG and two million to bmobile-Vodafone.
Today, none of the three operators had any information on who they had given the numbers out to.
Punaha said it was therefore difficult for NICTA to address complaints regarding the abuse or misuse of mobile phones.
“When we introduce competition in the mobile market, we did not record the names, the particulars of companies or people who are being issued SIM cards,” he said.
“As a result of that, today we do not have any idea who has been issued what SIM cards and what telephone number.”
He said they needed the information to deal with the use of mobile devices for the purpose of committing a crime or for spreading “unsubstantiated or unfounded” messages in the network.
He said every subscriber must have a “biometric/facial expression”, fingerprint and particulars registered.
Punaha said people today could buy SIM cards for mobile phones almost anywhere – from kaibars, street vendors and small shops.
He blamed the three mobile phone operators for delaying the registration of their subscribers. The National