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Pre-registered SIM cards: MTN vows sanction against non-compliant trade partners

By on August 14, 2015

Following the recent directive by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to telecoms operators to deactivate all pre-registered SIM cards on their networks or face sanctions, MTN, who wants to maintain its integrity as market leader, has in turn, directed its trade partners to henceforth, stop bulk pre-registration of MTN SIM cards or risk the revocation of their contract licences with it.
MTN said it is not ready to pay a fine of N200,000 to NCC for each SIM card discovered to be pre-registered on the MTN network.
NCC had said it would carry out sampled test on SIM cards and warned that it would impose a fine of N200,000 per SIM card, found to be pre-registered.
MTN who has therefore warned all its trade partners and their sub trade partners and agents that it would not hesitate to expose any trade partner found wanting aside from revoking its contract licenses.
General Manager, Corporate Communications at MTN, Funmi Onajide, who confirmed the fine order from NCC, said the position of MTN to also sanction defaulting trade partners became necessary to clear MTN of any misgiving and to maintain its integrity as the market leader in the telecoms industry, with over 62 million subscribers on its network, out of the 143 million active subscribers across all networks.
Explaining how SIM cards are pre-registered during a demo in Lagos, Senior Manager, Regulatory Affairs at MTN, Mr. Quasim Odunmbaku, said most trade partners and their sub trade partners and agents who want to make quick commission on the sale of SIM cards, are involved in pre-registering SIM cards before they are actually sold at premium. According to him, once the system recognises the demographic registration that were imputed into the computer system, the backend server automatically accepts the cards without further verification on the finger prints and facial recognition. They do this without the consent of the operator, just to get quick commission on every SIM card sold, Odunmbaku said.
He also said MTN invested so much in SIM card registration to the tune of N10 billion, aside the N6.2 billion spent by NCC and the money other operators spent also on SIM registration, which commenced in 2011 across all networks.
The directive given by the NCC, it was gathered, was the fallout of a meeting between office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), Department of State Service (DSS), the NCC and the network operators in Abuja recently.
The meeting, attributed crimes committed against members of the public either by kidnappers, terrorists, robbers and threats to lives, to the use of such unregistered SIM cards across all the networks.
Operators were however told to notify such subscribers before deactivation of their SIM cards.
The meeting resolved that henceforth, all registrations must conform to the data dictionary, technical specifications on finger prints and facial images and the business rule agreed by all stakeholders. All registration records must be validated before sending to the Commission, thus eliminating all invalid records that does not conform new registrations and indicate same in the monthly reports sent to the Commission.
According to NCC, it commenced monitoring of pre-registered SIM cards from Monday, August 3, 2015, and would not hesitate to sanction any operator found wanting, as regards unregistered or improper registered SIM cards.
NCC revealed that to date, more than 120 million SIM cards have been registered and transmitted to the central database by the operators, but lamented that out of that number, 45 per cent of the SIM cards were deemed invalid for reasons of invalid portrait image, invalid fingerprints, and incorrect/inaccurate demographic data such as name, address, among others.