Thursday, 8 August 2013

Two million Sim cards could be switched off after August


UCC says over 2m Sim cards are yet to be registered.

Kampala.
More than two million Sim cards are likely to be disconnected if owners fail to register them within the reaming 22 days.
According to Uganda Communications Commission about 13.5 million Sim cards, out of the 16 million mobile phone subscribers have been registered.
Mr Fred Otunnu, the UCC director for communications and consumer affairs told the Daily Monitor yesterday.
The exercise that had been scheduled to last one year was at the eve of Feb 28, 2012 postponed with telecom companies saying the response to register Sim cards had been slow on the part of subscribers .
The deadline was first extended from March 1, this year to May 30 before stretching it again to August 31 to enable telecoms complete the registration of the remaining subscribers.
However, Mr Otunnu said there would be no further extension adding that whoever would have not registered his or her Sim card by the end of this month would have to be switched off by respective network service provider.
Only 11 million telephone users had registered by March 31 this year.
Once a Sim card is disconnected, the user can neither receive nor make a phone call or even send a text message.
Telecoms have undertaken various measures as they seek to encourage subscribers to register their Sim cards, which among them include offering airtime (Utl) and constant reminders coming in form of short messages and calls.
UCC instructed network service providers to make a trial switch off of all unregistered Sim cards for 12 consecutive hours to demonstrate that the government was serious on the deactivation exercise.
MTN general manager corporate services, Mr Anthony Katamba, said close to 95 per cent of the telecom’s 8 million subscribers had been registered.
Airtel’s public relations manager, Ms Pheona Wall declined to reveal the number of the registered subscribers, saying she was not at liberty to divulge such information.
Following a merger between Airtel and Warid Telecom, the company is said to have about 7.2 million subscribers.
Mr Peter Kakaire, the Uganda Telecom project manager, Sim card registration, said the greater part of Utl subscribers had been registered but he also declined to give this reporter the total number of subscriber so far registered.
The Sim card registration exercise seeks to among others, track criminals who use phones for illegal activities, curb other negative practices, as well as helping service providers to better know their customers.
The exercise is also a prerequisite of regional integration under the East Africa Communications Organisation, that seeks to curb crimes committed using cell phones.
Uganda and Burundi are the only countries in EA that are yet to complete the exercise.