SIM registration extended? Poe urges NTC, telcos to improve remote SIM registration coverage
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Grace Poe on Tuesday asked the National Telecommunication Commission and telecommunication providers to bolster efforts in reaching rural and distant mobile phone consumers during the prolonged period for SIM card registration.
Poe, chair of the Senate public services committee, initially opposed the April 26 deadline extension but welcomed the Department of Information and Communications’ 90-day SIM card list-up extension.
As of April 23, only about 82.8 million, or 49.31 percent of the 168 million SIM cards in use, have been registered.
Poe said the deadline extension would prevent disruption of vital mobile services, but the longer period of SIM card enlistment calls for more effort on the end of the NTC and telcos to reach still-unregistered mobile phone users, especially in remote areas.
“Telcos must also mobilize and go down to the grassroots to reach out to more of their subscribers. As most telcos have been enjoying vast profits from their services, they have the corresponding obligation and the necessary resources to track down their SIM users and to widen the opportunity for registration,” Poe said in a statement.
Poe urged NTC and telcos to expand SIM registration and “double their efforts” in reaching mobile phone subscribers in rural and remote areas, including Bangsamoro.
“All hands on deck” are needed to ensure no one is left behind, she added.
Scams, spam texts still a problem
Poe pointed out that despite the SIM Registration Act, which is seen to curb widespread scams and frauds disseminated through short messaging services, the proliferation of such text messages persists.
Earlier, the NTC reported that the daily average of text scam complaints declined from 1,500 to 1,000 since the enactment of the SIM Registration Act.
“The [DICT] must look into how these syndicates are able to hijack the system and compromise our communications,” Poe said.
Additionally, she called on the DICT, NTC, and telcos to work together and disseminate accurate information to “clarify the confusion” surrounding the law.
“It should be emphasized that SIM [cards] will still be available in local retailers and sari-sari stores even past the SIM Registration deadline. Users will simply be required to register first before they can activate their new SIM [cards],” the senator pointed out.
The SIM Registration Act requires mobile phone subscribers to enroll their SIM cards or risk deactivation after the list-up period.
Some senators earlier opposed extending the April 26 deadline for registration, stating that the purpose of the law is to eliminate unnecessary cards.
In a separate statement, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada urged telcos to “undertake the necessary actions to make the registration procedure fuss-free.”
“No amount of information dissemination will work if the mobile network carriers will not address the concerns of the general public,” he added.
Estrada also expressed hope that the 100-percent target for SIM card registration will be met within the 90-day extension.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian pointed out that the law does allow the DICT to extend the SIM card registration period by 120 days.
He, however, reiterated that the total number of enrolled SIM cards is unlikely to reach 100 percent.
“A lot of Filipinos have more than one SIM card, and many of them are no longer registering their multiple prepaid SIM cards. That’s why I don’t think, in my analysis, we’ll reach 100 percent,” he told reporters at the Senate.