NICTA confirms timetable for SIM deactivations as registration deadline looms

31 Jul 2018

Papua New Guinea’s National Information and Communications Technology Authority (NICTA) has unveiled a three-stage schedule to deactivate unregistered SIM cards across the country, once tomorrow’s registration deadline passes. According to Post Courier Online, in the first phase the deactivation of SIM cards for users in the country’s main urban provincial centres will begin from midnight tonight (31 July); here, NICTA CEO Charles Punaha was cited as saying that the first wave of switch-offs will impact subscribers located within 30km of a provincial centre. However, subscribers elsewhere will benefit from something of a grace period. In phase two of the deactivation programme, SIM cards belonging to users in what Mr Punaha referred to as ‘administrative centres (district towns)’ are scheduled to be deactivated on 31 December 2018, while in all other regions, including rural areas, the enforced SIM switch-off is now scheduled for April 2019.

The NICTA has reportedly circulated its list of administration and main centres to its operators for comments and will finalise the list for public disclosure. Meanwhile, in terms of how it is determining which deactivation phase each SIM card belongs in, the regulator has claimed that cellcos will be able to differentiate via the location of the base stations that subscribers frequently used over a 30-day period. Confirming this, Digicel PNG’s head of SIM registration Brian Malone clarified: ‘It is where they have spent the most time in the last 30 days.’