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Number of active SIMs reaches 114.74 million by June 15

The numbers of active SIMs increased by 2.34 million during last one month and reached 114.74 million, which fell to 111.5 million following the SIMs verification drive using Biometric Verification System (BVS). Out of the targeted 103 million active SIMs, 75.5 million were re-verified while 27.5 million active SIMs were blocked by May 15, 2015 through BVS, which brought down the number of active SIMs from 139 million to 111.5 million.

According to the latest figure released by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) the number of total cellular subscribers reached 114.74 million by June 15, 2105 against 112.4 million in May. However, the data shows that the number of 3G/4G users reached 13.49 million by June 15, 2015 as compared to 9.83 million by May 2015 (3G and 4G Subscribers for the month of May 2015 still not provided by the CMPak), showing a reasonable growth in modern mobile broadband services with each passing month.

The number of 4G (Zong) users jumped from 61,964 subscribers in April 2015 to 105,128 during the period under review. According to the PTA, the number of 3G users of Zong, Mobilink, Ufone and Telenor reached 2.89 million, 3.65 million, 2.57 million and 4.1 million, respectively by June 15, 2015. PTA has taken serious note of the alleged discrepancies in SIMs data submitted by telecom companies after the BVS drive and directed all the telecom operators to provide monthly subscribers information but only of BVS verified.

The SIMs verification through BVS was made part of the National Action Plan (NAP) to avoid its misuse. However, the inordinate delay in the third party audit of verified SIMs has put the credibility of whole drive at stake. According to the PTA official website, the subscribers of telecom operator increased by about one million during March-April, at a time when the sale of new SIMs was banned at retailers, which raises question marks on the credibility of BVS drive. However, the number of subscribers of other telecom operators declined during this period.

After the conclusion of BVS drive the interior ministry had directed the PTA to carry out a third party audit of the whole exercise to verify its authenticity. In this regard, Expression of Interest (EoI) for hiring of a third party auditor was floated. But despite the passage of over three months, the Authority is silent on this initiative.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2015