Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Fear grips operators over unregistered data SIMs

Fear may have started to build up among the telecommunications operators in the country, following the readiness of the industry regulator to commence the next phase after deadline and month-long grace for the registration of Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards.

This worry is more on the part of telecom operators for their subscribers on data SIM, which investigations revealed that could be easily forgotten, such as SIM on internet modems or dongles, iPads, Point of Sale (POS) terminals, laptops, Automatic Teller Machines (ATM) among other devices.

Investigations by ITRealms Online showed that panic has gripped most of the telecommunications operators over the issue, mostly on the unregistered data SIMs and likely implication to their networks.

More so, the palpable decline in data service patronage, which has the capability to affect the telecom operators’ revenue.

Industry watchers affirmed that the anticipated revenue decline would definitely take some times to recover from any short comings likely to result from the potential disconnection of unregistered SIMs, particularly on data SIMs.

Additionally, ITRealms Online gathered that the worry is heightened by the fact that voice revenue has been on downward slope for some years now, which has resulted on most revamping operators or new entrants to anchor their marketing on data related devices.

Further, this slope, it was gathered may continue for a long time, just as the Nigerian telecom consumers expect the introduction of the Number Portability Scheme, which industry analysts could be another double sword for every operator in the country, thus a call for wake up.

“… Or face subscriber base decline which ultimately will rob off on other related services of telecom operators in the country, especially on data, which cuts across various mobile devices,” one of the analysts said.

Industry watchers argued that this is very clear with the fact that most Nigerian subscribers have more than two mobile handsets and of course those two or more will naturally have data access on them pending when the quality of service improves.

In the last quarter of 2011, ITRealms Online gathered that the telecommunications regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) reportedly extended the deadline for SIM card registration from September so as to enable those yet to register their SIM cards to do so on or before December 31, 2011.

Further reports had it that the expiration of the deadline, which paved the way for collation and harmonization of telecom subscribers’ data was to facilitate the disconnection of unregistered SIM in the country to boost security services operations.

Although by end of September 2011, when the second phase of the SIM registration ended, NCC announced an extension without definite deadline on when the disconnection may take effect.
But industry watchers were of the opinion that the disconnection would not exceed the first quarter of 2012, given the fact that NCC is seriously warming up for the Number Portability scheme.
The objectives of SIM registration, according to NCC are to assist security agencies in resolving crimes and by extension to enhance the security of the state.
Additionally, NCC said that it would facilitate the collation of data by the Commission about phone usage in the country. As well as enabling operators to have a predictable profile about the users in their networks and allow the commission to effectively implement other value added services like Number Portability among others.

Remmy Nweke
ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

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