PTA: (SIM re-verification drive through BVS successfully completed)

ISLAMABAD: The subscriber identification module (SIM) re-verification drive through the biometric verification system (BVS), initiated under the National Action Plan, has been successfully completed.

The Ministry of Information Technology (MoIT) and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) were tasked to carry out verification of all existing SIMs through BVS in January 2015.

The task which looked difficult initially as the previous governments failed to do so despite the demand by law enforcement agencies, has been made possible through all-out support of the relevant stakeholders and dedicated efforts by all – particularly PTA, MoIT, the Ministry of Information, the cellular mobile operators (CMOs) and NADRA. Above all, the support by people of Pakistan made this process a success who participated in the re-verification process considering it to be a national cause.

During the course of the activity, MoIT and PTA undertook measures not only to make the process smooth and transparent but also facilitate the general public. Extensive awareness campaigns through SMS, electronic (TV & Radio) and digital media were run. In addition, an alternative verification process was deployed to facilitate the old, disabled and overseas Pakistanis.

The final deadline for completion of the exercise was April 12, however, a certain category (one SIM per CNIC per operator and in continuous use for the last two years) was allowed by the government to operate beyond this date. The deadline for this category of SIMs was May 15 and the CMOs were asked to block all such SIMs which could not be verified by this date. Accordingly, all unverified SIMs have been blocked. However, these SIMs can be got unblocked by the owners by visiting any sale channel and performing successful biometric verification.

According to the final figures, out of target 103 million active SIMs, 75.5 million SIMs have been re-verified while 27.5 million active SIMs have been blocked as of May 15. It is worth mentioning that the government asked the CMOs to re-verify their complete subscribers’ bases irrespective of their current status i.e active or dormant. In this regard, another 21 million SIMs were verified from the dormant base while 17 million SIMs already verified through BVS from August 1, 2014 to January 12, 2015. New SIMs are only issued through BVS.

After the achievement of this major milestone, PTA has been directed to carry out a third party audit of the whole exercise to verify its authenticity. In this regard, the Expression of Interest (EoI) for hiring of a third party auditor has already been floated. The complete exercise has been closely monitored by the minister of state on IT & Telecom, the PTA chairman and the PTA compliance & enforcement member, to ensure that the process concludes without any hindrance and is completed on time. It is believed that the effects of the re-verification drive shall go a long way in ensuring a safer Pakistan.

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