Mobile phone companies are uncertain about the new SIMs sales system that has been formed by the Prime Minister. Two of the three mobile operators have introduced SIM sales through postal service which had been suggested by the Interior Minister. Since the decline of the SIMs sales, the mobile phone operators switched to a new method of reaching the local market, mostly through courier services.
Previously, there had been some doubts as to whether this is an effective way to take as an alternative and many thought it was not viable. One of the mobile operators have given options to their customers of calling or sending an SMS at their UAN number to get free SIMs. The others have provided with an online address at the cost of Rs.300 per SIM. The customers can then receive their purchased SIMs delivered to their homes through postal service.
The Interior Minister had also suggested showing original utility bills to purchase new SIMs, but now they can get it through verification of subscribers’ CNIC. However, there is a loophole in this condition too as subscribers do not have to have the same residential address as stated on their CNICs. If SIMs are being verified to stop terrorism and terrorists from developing networking channels, to a criminal mind, this loophole is a big gap that can be covered.
Hence, the whole scheme means little if this happens. The issue of national security is not a light one and must be dealt with seriously without such loopholes. Pakistan has been victimized by terrorism for much too long without a proper national strategy to deal with the threat, which has adversely impacts it political, social and economic conditions. The deaths of hundreds of innocent civilians must stop with cutting off channels of criminals connecting together, which is one way of handling the matter primarily.
As of now, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has not confirmed on the new postal service for SIMs delivery. New SIMs can still be obtained from telecom companies franchises and customer care centres. NADRA has been asked to play its part by confirming the data on the SIMs registration to match the verification of the subscribers.
Now, the mobile operators are thinking upon setting up a single method which can be used by all and standardized nationally for obtaining new SIMs, but the matter is being delayed over calculation of costs and data security. SIMs sales have declined over the past two and a half month due to restrictions on how customers can obtain new ones.
However, SIMs sales in cities have already gained its maximum market space and rural areas are yet left to have the same telecom penetration. There needs to be a wider network that covers the whole country if mobile operators want to grow their future market. Also, the fact that there is competition between different mobile service operators, which is not letting them be together when it comes to forming a national strategy.