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ISLAMABAD: Effective from 1st January 2024, cellular mobile operators in Pakistan and AJK and GB may levy a “SIM Disowning Charge” up to Rs 200 on SIMs having a retention period of less than six months, says Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).

Furthermore, all consumers are advised to disown or return unnecessary SIMs, free of charge, latest by December 31, 2023. By doing so, consumers can avoid SIM disowning charge and contribute towards responsible usage of SIMs.

A one-time waiver against the SIM disowning charge will be granted in cases of illegal SIM issuance without the knowledge or consent of the consumer.

With this decision, PTA stays committed to national safety and security while ensuring uninterrupted quality services to all telecom consumers.

To check the status of registered SIMs, consumers can use following methods: by visiting or sending an SMS with CNIC number (without dashes) to 668 (charges apply).

Sources revealed that it is a fact that significant resources and cost (SIM acquisition cost, NADRA verification cost, etc) are involved in the process of SIM sale to customers through Biometric Verification System (BVS) and the same has increased owing to the current economic situation and increase in operational expenditures.

Although the PTA has deregulated SIM connection price but due to competition, CMOs are unable to recover SIM cost. Another phenomenon which was observed is that some consumers willingly or unwillingly handover SIMs to illegal sources for monetary gains and exploit free disowning SIM facility by returning the SIM after they are identified and acquire new SIM of other operators for the same activity.

Thus, they are involved in abusing new customer acquisition offers which are offered to new consumers for sale of SIM.

There were instances where free disowning of SIM phenomena were exploited by grey traffickers/fraudsters as they were able to get new SIMs after disowning of old SIMs, which were used in grey traffic/ frauds.

In August 2022, Telenor on its own implemented/ introduced disowning charge @ Rs200 per SIM and posted notices on its website. However, after directions by PTA, Telenor discontinued SIM disowning charge and no consumer was charged. Later, Telenor approached PTA to re-visit the Authority’s Determination regarding implementation of SIM disowning charge.

On 21st September 2022, PTA conducted a consultation session with Jazz, Telenor, Zong, and Ufone, wherein, representatives of all CMOs were requested to submit written feedback/ comments on SIM disowning charges.

The CMOs were also directed to provide framework/mechanism for addressing genuine concerns of the complainants along with proposed price for SIM disowning. Jazz stated that SIM disowning charge should be uniform across all customers, considering that genuineness of the consumer cannot be determined. Jazz suggested price ceiling of Rs500 as SIM disowning charge.

Telenor proposed minimum charge of Rs300 on all SIM disowning activities without exception. Zong requested a de-regulated approach with a price ceiling of Rs300 and recommended that these charges should be applicable to all customers.

Ufone argued that consultation on SIM disowning charge and framework/ mechanism for addressing genuine concerns of complainants may be deferred till the implementation/ maturity of the Multi-Finger Biometric Verification System (MFBVS) and its impact analysis. In order to further deliberate on the issue, a subsequent consultative meeting was held with CMOs on 14th November 2022.

During the meeting, Jazz, Telenor, and Zong proposed that the PTA should determine price floor and price ceiling for SIM disowning and suggested price floor and price ceiling in the range of Rs200 to Rs500 respectively.

Ufone only agreed on setting price ceiling by the PTA but opposed the determination of price floor for SIM disowning.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023


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