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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

SIM registration’ll be free – NCC

THE Head, Consumer Affairs Bureau, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Mrs. Lolia Emakpore, has said that the proposed Subscribers’ Identification Module (SIM) card registration exercise billed to resume March 1, 2010 will be at no cost to subscribers.

Speaking on the propriety of the exercise at the latest Telecom Consumers parliament in Lagos, she said the commission has been inundated with complaints on the use of phones for crime.

“So, we thought the way to check this is by identifying owners of GSM phones. The commission had set up a committee of all stakeholders and we have the national identity management commission as well,” she said.

Emakpore, also said although crime will always be there, the commission believes that registration will reduce the rate.

In addition, she said the initial exercise which has been projected to last for about six months from March 1, will be simplified, thus not cumbersome.

“It has been designed in such a way that it will go round the six geopolitical zones of the country and as close as local government areas, so that people who want to register will not have to go too far from the their houses,” she asserted.

Stressing that the devices are hand-held easy to handle, even at the end, the country will have an authentic data base for use subsequently.

She said the conditions for registration are biometrics and identification card, stressing that the reason for the biometrics is to check double registration, explaining that for existing subscribers a time limit of six months has been agreed.

“If we have about 69 million subscribers today it will take six months to complete the registration while that of new subscribers is ongoing and will be done by the operators,” she said.

While allaying the fears of people with more than one telephone lines, Mrs. Emakpore said “if you are entering the next time with the same biometrics, same information for another number it will allow you but when you want to distort the information it will not allow you.”

On likely inconveniences, she said as far as national security is concerned the benefit of SIM registration far outweighs the inconvenience to be suffered in the process, maintaining that the security of the information of subscribers is assured, but for anybody to have access to the data base, the process entails formal written application endorsed by at least an Assistant Commissioner of Police.

“So, your information will not be on the street for everybody to have access to, so you are rest assured,” he said.

Also speaking the presiding chairman at the parliament and president, Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, noted that the benefits of the exercise far outweigh the likely inconveniencies, while enjoining Nigerians to embrace the exercise.

He said the expected delay in registration should not be seen as a hindrance, stressing that the technology is available and all that is now needed is the political will to implement.

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