KARACHI: As part of the government’s National Action Plan against terrorism, the cellular mobile operators (CMOs) have processed more than half of 103 million Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards using the biometric verification system (BVS) by February 15, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) revealed on Tuesday.
Since the launch of the BVS campaign, 47.4 million SIMs have been verified against 35.6 million CNICs, said the telecom regulator in a press release. Another 5.6 million SIMs were blocked during the period under review, it said.
The telecom industry initially expressed its reservations about the tight deadline, saying they have about 60,000 devices to verify 103 million people in 90 days, which translates to almost one million SIMs a day or 664 SIMs per minute. The deadline for consumers with two or more SIMs was February 26 and for those with less SIMs was April 13.
The fresh numbers, however, reflect the industry has been pushing hard and is well ahead of the target for it processed more than half the number in a month’s time.
“At the moment, they are certainly ahead of the target and may even complete the whole process before the deadline,” Information and Communications Technology expert Parvez Iftikhar told The Express Tribune.
However, he added it is always the last 20% to 30% of the users that are difficult to verify in such an exercise.
“I think the process will slow down in the second phase and a lot of SIMs will be blocked during that time,” said Iftikhar, referring to a bulk of SIMs bought by elements involved in grey telephony.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 18th, 2015.