Pre-registered SIM Cards: NCC Blocks 10.7m Lines By Emeka Aginam

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Following the ongoing de-activation of pre-registered Subscribers Identification Modules (SIM) cards of mobile network operators in Nigeria, the telecommunications regulatory authority, Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, yesterday, in Lagos disclosed that it has blocked about 10.7 million lines in the last two weeks.

From the about 38.78 million SIM cards found to be defective regarding improper registration details including poor finger prints, absence of facial information and other biometric issues, according to NCC,  the operators, after strict monitoring by the commission, have barred  about 10.7 million SIMs.

Head of the Compliance and Monitoring Unit of the commission, Efosa Idehen, who spoke to technology journalists, yesterday, in Lagos said the commission has since the expiration of the ultimatum given to operators on August 11 this year visited the  operators  to ensure compliance.

He said  the directive to the operators was that they should bar any line found to have incomplete registration and later urged the affected subscribers to come and complete their registration.

He told technology journalists that the  commission, after due consultation with the Nation Security Adviser (NSA) and other stakeholders in the industry, agreed that pre-registered SIMs and others found to be defective should be deactivated.

While frowning at the operators lack of complete commitment to the exercise,  he said that  henceforth, they  will be required to send correct data for harmonization to the regulator.

According to him,  in September 2014, NCC discovered that from the SIM data the operators sent to the commission for harmonization,  some of them were defective and as a result was  returned to the operators for proper  checks.

He disclosed that  about 18.6 million SIM data were sent back to MTN Nigeria; 7. 49 million sent to Airtel; 2.23 million to Globacom and 10.46 million to Etisalat.

“With this there was no compliance from MTN. During our visit to Airtel, the telecommunications service has fully barred 2.3 million from their networks. These were SIM datas found to be incomplete. At Globacom, 3.5 million lines have been barred also from their network.

“Globacom gave assurance of 24 hours to deactivate other lines found to be defective on their networks. Etisalat has barred 3.3 million and promised that within 24 hours, others found to be challenging will be removed totally from the networks, he explained.

According to him,  what MTN  did  as an intervention was to put the affected subscribers on “Receive Calls Only”, a development which did not allow  the subscribers to  put a call through to another network.

He said that  out of the about 18.6 million SIM registration data found to be defective on MTN network, only about 1.6 million have been barred.

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