PORT MORESBY, 30 APRIL 2018 (POST COURIER) —- Digicel will be the hardest hit today when more than half of its SIM – subscriber identity module – card customers in Papua New Guinea are deactivated from its mobile network. Only 1.2 million of its 2.6 million SIM card holders had registered.

While 1.4 million SIMs will be deactivated starting tonight at 12 o’clock. The deactivation would continue for 24 hours.

In a surprise statistic from NICTA – National Information and Communications Technology Authority – despite ease of access to registration sites in the National Capital District, of all Digicel customers in the city only 41 per cent had egistered, according to chief executive officer Charles Punaha.

“So another 59 per cent are yet to register in NCD. This to us is not a very good indication of the willingness of the subscriber to register their SIM cards,” he said.

“The only way forward now is for us and the network operators to start deactivating today, at midnight.

“One of the issues that we do not understand in the case of Digicel is that they have only registered 46 per cent.

“They obviously will be deactivating 54 per cent by Tuesday morning and what we don’t understand is why they were not aggressive in their registration exercise if this process is going to have an impact on their revenue.”

He said the only hope is when customers realise their SIMs have been deactivated, hopefully the operator will regain its customers quickly.

“Subscribers will realise that they need go back and get themselves registered because nowadays everybody relies on mobile phones for both business and contacting their family.

“We are hoping by Tuesday when the deactivation is done in a short time period once they realise their cards will be deactivated they will make their way to the service providers,” he said.

“We are not bluffing”, were the words used by NICTA chief executive officer Charles Punaha as the deactivation process starts for about 1,477,000 unregistered SIM cards.

The National Information and Communications Technology Authority will spend most of today cutting the country’s more than 2.8 million mobile communication subscribers in half as it enforces requirements under the SIM card regulations of 2016.

Punaha said at a news conference that the D-Day in the SIM card registration campaign had arrived.

“By law all network operators are required to start the deactivation process at one minute past midnight tomorrow (today),” he said.

“It is a requirement under the SIM card regulations 2016 that all mobile network operators, that is Digicel (PNG), Telikom, Bmobile-Vodaphone are required by law to deactivate all SIM cards that are not registered.

“We have given sufficient time since July 2016 notice period for all consumers subscribers in Papua New Guinea to have their SIM cards registered.”

Punaha gave statistics on the numbers received from network operators as of last week for the media to note how many customers would be affected by the exercise. “For Digicel PNG out of their active numbers of 2.6 million they have only registered 1.2 million subscribers, representing only 46 per cent. They are yet to register 1.4 million subscribers as of today representing 54 per cent of their subscribers.

“For Telikom PNG out of their active subscriber base of 72,000 they have registered 52,000 representing 73 per cent. So they have yet to register 19,000 subscribers representing 27 per cent.

“For Bmobile-Vodafone, out of their active subscriber base of 156,000 they have registered 98,000 representing 63 per cent; therefore, they are yet to register 58,000 representing 37 per cent.”

Punaha admitted the regulator was frustrating to note that some provinces’ numbers were very low, with NCD even more.

He said they had distributed database and verification audit forms to all the network operators which would be used for the audit and verification exercise starting today.

NICTA inspectors would be visiting all network operators and access their databases to verify that the numbers of SIM cards not registered had actually been deactivated as of midnight today.

“That form will be submitted to us by Tuesday morning.

“Failure to deactivate an unregistered SIM will attract a penalty of K50,000 per SIM,” he said….PACNEWS