Expiry of deadline: Several lakh corporate SIM users risk losing connection

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They said the mobile operators failed to update information regarding their corporate SIM users despite several extensions for the job

Several lakh corporate SIM users may face partial network suspension as the telecom regulator is going to take action against those who failed to update their information within the December 31 deadline.

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission officials said several lakh corporate SIM users would face partial network suspension after the commission would make the final decision in this regard soon.

They said the mobile operators failed to update information regarding their corporate SIM users despite several extensions for the job. 

According to BTRC data, leading mobile phone operator Grameenphone submitted 8% of their corporate SIM users’ updated information while Robi provided 10%, Banglalink 16% and state-run Teletalk 4.5%.

Sources at the mobile operators said four carriers had close to five lakh corporate clients, and they were mostly post-paid connections generating higher revenue.

The telecom regulator in early November issued a notice asking all four mobile phone carriers to provide information of all their corporate SIM users by November 30.

Otherwise, it warned, the SIM connections would be terminated permanently.

Later following the request from mobile phone companies, the BTRC extended the deadline until December 31.

Mobile phone operators claimed that there were a huge number of corporate clients and such a short time was not enough to collect all the data.

They said as the corporate firms were their clients; operators had no right to force them to comply with such order other than requesting and warning about the consequences.

“We will suspend the outgoing calls of all corporate SIM initially. Then if the mobile phone companies fail to provide information, the SIMs will be terminated permanently,” a senior BTRC official told Dhaka Tribune.

The BTRC move came following security concerns as the government was unaware about the information of the corporate SIMs.

In the existing system, mobile phone companies sell bulk SIMs to corporate clients and a designated official from the firm remains responsible for biometric verification on behalf of all subscribers of that particular corporation.

BTRC officials said in such a system the government remained in dark as to who was using the corporate SIMs, and if those were used in illegal activities it would become hard to detect.

The BTRC asked the phone companies to provide subscribers’ names, designations and NID copies of staffers using corporate SIMs.

The government in 2016 made biometric verification mandatory for mobile phone SIM connection on security ground.