Charles Punaha, the chief executive of Papua New Guinea’s National Information and Communications Technology Authority (NICTA), has said the telecoms regulator is ‘not bluffing’ when it says it will insist that unregistered SIM cards are deactivated. In January this year, the authorities confirmed a final extension to the deadline for SIMs to be registered as 30 April 2018. Speaking just ahead of today’s deadline, the Post Courier cites the executive as saying: ‘By law all network operators are required to start the deactivation process at one minute past midnight [on the 30th] … It is a requirement under the SIM card regulations 2016 that all mobile network operators (MNOs), that is Digicel PNG, Telikom and bmobile-Vodafone, are required by law to deactivate all SIM cards that are not registered … We have given sufficient time since July 2016 notice period for all consumers subscribers in Papua New Guinea to have their SIM cards registered.’
Local industry watchers suggest that there are still some 1.48 million unregistered SIM cards in the country, broken down as 1.4 million still to be registered SIMS for Digicel, with bmobile-Vodafone and Telikom having registered 73% (52,000 of 72,000) and 63% (98,000 of 156,000) of their active subscribers, respectively.
Mr Punaha also confirmed that the NICTA has now distributed database and verification audit forms to all MNOs which are to be used for the audit and verification exercise which begins today. NICTA inspectors will reportedly be visiting all three cellcos to access their databases with a view to verifying that the numbers of SIM cards not registered had been deactivated as of midnight on 30 April, with operators facing a fine of PGK50,000 for each unregistered SIM that they fail to deactivate.