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Re-verification of 103m SIMs starts from tomorrow

About 25 to 30 million SIMs may be blocked after 90 days deadline

By our correspondents
January 11, 2015
ISLAMABAD: Almost 25 to 30 million SIMs might be blocked after 90 days deadline as launching of re-verification of 103 million SIMs will be kick-started from tomorrow (Monday) in all over the country, The News has learnt.
In order to implement National Action Plan to root out menace of terrorism, the government and telecos agreed to re-verify 103 million SIMs within 90 days through Biometric Verification System (BVS).
“It will be hard to assess exact numbers that how much SIMs will be blocked after passing 90 days with effect from January 12, 2015 but millions of SIMs will be blocked and then re-sold after six months period,” official sources confirmed to The News here on Saturday.
The blockage of millions of SIMs will depend upon the reaction of masses whether they take this exercise seriously or taking it as granted but this time all blocked SIMs will not be restored but re-issued within certain timeframe. If six months lapsed then the SIMs will be re-sold to new customers, added the sources.
The sources said that all SIMs irrespective of pre-paid or post paid would be re-verified during the two-phased exercise starting from January 12, 2015. The existing BVS, which was developed by utilising millions of dollars by telecos, was further upgraded by establishing its linkages with Nadra to ensure speedy verification of SIM holders. The Nadra will charge Rs 3 and Rs 7 for holding basic and detailed verification respectively from telecom companies.
The re-verification of SIMs will be undertaken in two phases. The first phase will be started from January 12, 2015 to February 26, 2015 during which special focus will be given for re-verification of SIMs from subscribers belonging to Karachi, Peshawar, DI Khan, DG Khan, bordering areas of Fata & Balochistan. Starting Feb 27th, 2015, the second phase will be kick-started and other subscribers from whole Pakistan will be re-verified during the remaining period of 90 days. “On April 14th, all un-verified SIMs will be blocked,” said the official sources.
A media campaign will be launched to create awareness among the masses and customers will be able to check total number of SIMs against a CNIC by sending CNIC number without dashes to 668. Five SIMs will be allowed with one CNIC.
The telecom companies had estimated that 40 million active SIMs might be blocked during the re-verification exercise provided 11 months deadline but completing this exercise in just 3 months might jack up this number close to 50 million.
“Almost 50 million SIMs are estimated to be blocked in the aftermath of this re-verification exercise,” senior telecom expert Sohaib Sheikh said when The News contacted him to seek his comments on Saturday.
He said that there were maximum 75 working days out of total 90 days deadline, the retailers will be able to verify 50 percent SIMs of total 103 million so at least 50 million SIMs will be blocked. The monthly revenue loss has been estimated at Rs10 billion, he added.
Citing an example, Sohaib Sheikh said that during the general elections with normal votes and all logistics push by candidates could just get 30 million voters turn out. Now through BVS 50 percent devices deployed at 15 major cities it would be impossible to accomplish this exercise in whole country within 90 days deadline.
He said that the government was taking steps to strangulate the booming telecom industry and there was need to take corrective steps to improve deteriorated security situation in the country.