The telecoms regulator is seeking a three-month reprieve for nearly 17 million prepaid mobile phone numbers blocked from making outgoing calls after their owners missed the deadline for SIM registration.
Hold the phone: Officials from the NBTC examine prepaid SIM cards. All prepaid SIM card users were supposed to register their personal details with mobile providers by Friday.
The final date for registration was Friday. But Prawit Leesathapornwongsa, a member of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, said yesterday his agency is in the process of consulting government on whether the deadline can be pushed back.
Mobile phone operators have asked the NBTC to extend the registration period because millions of people have failed to enrol their numbers since registration opened on Feb 1.
On Friday alone, as many as 610,905 prepaid SIM cards were registered. Since Feb 1, a total of 69.5 million numbers, or 81.3% of all 85.5 million prepaid numbers have been registered. According to NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasit, 16.9 million remain unregistered, although 30% of those may be inactive.
“It is in peoples’ interests to register. Using registered SIM cards improves the security of online transactions,” said Mr Takorn.
He said the process of registering is easy and requires users to input their personal information at any of 60,000 plus service points nationwide, which include 7-Eleven stores.
SIM card registration should help curb the illegal use of SIM cards in criminal activities, such as the drug trade and southern violence, he said.
Earlier this year, the cabinet approved a regulation requiring all mobile users to register their prepaid SIM cards as part of the national security agenda after several bombings in the South were triggered by mobile phones with unregistered SIM cards.
Users who don't submit their subscriber information will not be able to make outgoing calls, use the internet or send text messages, and will instead receive a registration reminder whenever they try to use their phones.
However, unregistered phones can still receive incoming calls and dial emergency numbers including the 191 police hotline, the 199 fire alert number, the 1669 hotline for the National Institute for Emergency Medicine, the 1200 hotline for the NBTC and the call centres of their mobile network operators.
If phone users register by the end of this month, they can continue to use their SIMs normally without facing any penalty or deduction to their remaining credit, said Mr Takorn.
As of Friday, AIS, the largest mobile phone operator, had registered 34.7 million numbers, or 83.5% of its 41.6 million prepaid users.
DTAC had registered 21.5 million, or 79.9% of its 26.9 million prepaid SIM users, while True Move had registered 13 million, or 76.8% of 16.9 million eligible users.