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2.5 Million Mobile Phone Subscribers in PNG face deactivation of SIM Cards

Admin | 1:53:00 AM | |
It is already gearing up to be a sad Christmas for both Digicel PNG and about 2.5 million of its mobile phone subscribers who may be deactivated next month.

Digicel faces the real prospect of disconnecting these subscribers for seemingly failing to meet the National Information Communication Technology Authority SIM – subscriber identification module – registration requirements.

With only 33 days to go before the deadline of the mandatory SIM registration period, Digicel PNG will have no choice but to either deactivate up to 62 per cent of its mobile subscribers or face in excess K125 million in fines for non-compliance.

According to NICTA chief executive officer Charles Punaha, other mobile network operators (MNO) Telikom and Bmobile-Vodafone will face similar fate because progress towards the registration of all mobile subscribers in the country had been very slow.

Mr Punaha said NICTA has already made a submission to the Minister for Communication, Information Technology and Energy Sam Basil to extend the deadline.

“An 18-month grace period has been given. Unfortunately the progress is very slow. The biggest challenge now we have is with the slow registration. There may be a need to extend the registration period and to that effect, we have made a submission to the minister,” he said.

However, Mr Basil is adamant that he will not extend beyond the December 31 deadline.

“There has been ample time that has been given out already. There is a hefty penalty and I will stand by my department to make sure that any mobile company that fails to register their SIMs will be penalised heavily,” Mr Basil said yesterday.

“The least we could do is extend by one month but at the moment the cutoff date remains as December 31, 2017.”

Digicel PNG is currently the largest MNO in Papua New Guinea, with about four million subscribers; only about 1.5 million have registered so far.

Furthermore, according to Mr Punaha, the other MNOs have so far been reluctant to share progressive figures of their SIM registration drives, despite several requests from NICTA.

All mobile phone subscribers are now encouraged to bring a form of identification to advertised SIM registration stalls to register SIMs now and avoid deactivation from their respective MNOs.

Considerations have also been made for people without any form of ID, who may now register with a statutory declaration from a priest, pastor, police, or local level government president; for the case of people living in rural
areas. Source: Post Courier