Citizens looking to disown SIM cards will be charged Rs200: PTA

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ISLAMABAD: Citizens looking to disown their SIM cards will be charged Rs200 apiece from next year, the Pakistan Teleco­mmunication Authority (PTA) said on Friday.

This new charge — applicable from Jan 1 across the country, including Azad Jammu and Kashmir and GB — will be levied on SIM cards under a customer’s use for less than six months.

The PTA allowed citizens to disown or return SIMs without any charge until Dec 31. “By doing so, consumers can avoid SIM disowning char­ges and contribute towards responsible usage of SIMs,” it said.

Besides, a one-time wai­ver will apply in cases where illegal SIMs are iss­ued without the knowledge or consent of consumers.

“With this decision, the PTA stays committed to national safety and security while ensuring uninterrupted quality services to all telecom consumers,” the regulator said.

Mobile users can verify the status of SIMs registered under their Comput­erised National Identity Card (CNIC) by going to the web address “cnic.sims.pk” or by SMSing their CNIC number to 668.

This measure is part of an initiative that started in 2016, addressing concerns regarding the rampant distribution of free SIM cards by mobile operators and their potential misuse.

Documents from the PTA highlight that some consumers, intentionally or unintentionally, hand over their SIMs to unauthorised people, sometimes for monetary benefits. These SIMs, once identified, are disowned by the users, leading to disconnection. The users then frequently acquire new SIMs from different operators, continuing the cycle.

In November last year, the PTA held a consultative meeting with the four mobile operators to discuss the issue of standardising the SIM disowning charges. While Jazz, Telenor and Zong proposed a fee ranging between Rs200 and Rs500, Ufone advocated for a uniform charge.

The PTA stressed that grey traffickers and fraudsters were exploiting the practice of free SIM disowning, as they conveniently get new SIMs after disowning the old ones.

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