Wednesday, February 10, 2010

SIM card registration: ALTON seeks 60-day extension


THE exclusive body of telecom operators in the country, the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), has reiterated its position over the planned registration of Subscriber Identification Modules (SIM) cards come March 1, this year, regardless of its support for the initiative.

Just as ALTON asked for extension of the commencement date to April 30, that is 60 days from the initial date, while 30 days should be given to new subscribers.

Apart from opposing the biometric system as suggested by the industry regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), ALTON did not propose an alternative, but went on to state that operators’ preference is not biometric due to poor power situation in the country.

“Lack of electricity could hinder the process,” part of the communiqué issued at the end of the executive meeting last Thursday, highlighted.

Arising from the meeting, ALTON also sought for extension of time for the commencement of registration of existing subscribers to start on April 30 and new subscribers have till the end of May within which to register.

“… The duration for registration should be up to between 6-month to 18-month for the existing subscribers and eternity for new subscribers,” ALTON communiqué entitled ‘The position of ALTON on the Registration of SIM card’ signed by its chairman, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo and dated Saturday, February 6, 2010 indicated.

The existing subscribers, ALTON said, should be given a minimum of 12 months instead of the six months by NCC from the day registration commenced and this is due to the literacy level of majority of the people and time. 

“After the 12 months without registration, extra three months for sub-suspension before the total disconnection,” ALTON opted.

The five-point communiqué further proposes incentives for operators to defray part of the cost of registration of new subscribers.

This, the group said, could come in form of administrative compensation such as reduction in Annual Operating Levy (AOL), numbering plan renewal fees, frequency renewal charges and other concession on this account.

Although ALTON was not emphatic if would head to the law court if the above propositions and concerns were not affected by NCC before March 1, the original date for resumption of the exercise nationwide.

In another development the National Association of Telecommunications Consumers (NATCOMS) has petitioned industry regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), expressing concern over the fate of the data to be collected from the exercise and at the same time proposing July for the commencement of the exercise.

NATCOMS National President, Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo stated in a copy of the petition made available to ITRealms Online that its members have voiced out their concerns in the use of the exercise to collect their data, wondering on the integrity of such data and its management afterwards, thus warning against data abuse.

They noted that any failure to reassure telecom consumers could spell doom for the consumers in the industry.

“This may breed touting and other undesirable practices with dire consequences for the exercise,” he said, insisting that both the operators and vendors have been found by NATCOMS as not ready enough to commence the exercise, especially on the required human resources.

He maintained that the scope of the exercise is enormous, even as the equipment procurement and delivery are expected to take time to conclude, therefore deserves a good measure of time of extension as being suggested by ALTON.

“The human resources and logistics required needed to deliver the solution are simply mind-boggling and may not be readily met at this time,” he declared, stressing that some vendors are still putting together a solution.

“It is therefore our considered view that should arrangements not be fully in place, the Commission should seriously consider pushing the March 1, 2010 go live date, to say July 2010,” Ogunbanjo said.

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