The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission is set to block 30 lakh SIMs without any prior notice as their owners had registered more than 15 SIMs against one national card.
At present, one national ID card can have at most 15 mobile connections on it. Earlier on December 31, 2017 the government gave a two-month timeframe for subscribers to deactivate their excess SIM cards.
“But the response was low,” said a top official of the telecom division related with the process.
The BTRC used its main server, where all the mobile operators are connected, to detect that about five lakh NID cards had registered more than 15 SIM cards each.
Now, violators will have their SIM cards blocked at random without getting any prior notice, said the official.
The SIM blocking process will start soon, he said, adding that state-owned Teletalk might be spared.
Subscribers can find the total number of SIM cards registered against his/her NID card by dialling the USSD code *16001# from their handsets and then providing the last four digits of their NID card number.
An initial government assessment of one lakh SIM cards taken at random from all six mobile operators found that 75 percent of those had faulty registrations.
There were even instances where some 14,000 SIM cards were registered under one NID card and 11,000 under another.
Then on December 16, 2016 the government started re- registration of SIM cards using the biometric method. The window for re-registration ended on May 31, 2017.
Then in July last year, the BTRC considered bringing down the number of SIM cards per NID card from 20 to 5, much to the protest of operators, who argued that many genuine connections would have to be barred.
After much negotiation, both the parties settled on 15 connections per NID card. The new cap came into effect on September 29 last year.