SIM card suspension causes pandemonium

Niël Terblanché

The completion of the mandated SIM card registration exercise, as directed by the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN), has left thousands of mobile phone users temporarily disconnected from network services.

This follows the March 31st deadline, which marked the end of an extensive campaign aimed at enhancing security and customer verification processes within the country’s telecommunications sector.

Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTC), Namibia’s largest mobile operator, reported a registration compliance rate of 83.3 percent, having successfully registered 1,613,893 SIM cards. However, 323,236 users failed to meet the deadline, rendering their SIM cards suspended, but not deactivated, pending compliance.

Tim Ekandjo, MTC’s Chief Human Capital, Corporate Affairs and Marketing Officer, clarified the situation.

“Following CRAN’s directive, the registration process officially concluded on March 31st, 2024. Consequently, unregistered customers are now in suspension, a state that will persist for a 90-day grace period unless they comply with the registration requirements,” he said.

This suspension phase allows affected customers until July 1st, 2024, to register their SIM cards to avoid permanent deactivation.

Despite this provision, the suspension has caused significant inconvenience among users and is anticipated to impact MTC’s revenue, with unregistered customers contributing approximately 3.1% of monthly revenue, equivalent to around NAD 8.1 million.

MTC has expressed concerns over the challenges encountered during the registration drive, citing Namibia’s extensive geography and various socio-economic factors that have hindered the process.

The company had advocated for an extension beyond the stipulated timeframe to achieve full compliance but is committed to adhering to CRAN’s regulations.

In a parallel development, Telecom Namibia (TN) took a firmer stance by deactivating 191,598 unregistered prepaid SIM cards.

This move, according to Nomvula Kambinda, TN’s Head of Corporate Communications and Public Relations, demonstrates the company’s commitment to regulatory compliance and consumer privacy.

“TN has now a base of 250,812 registered prepaid subscribers, following a transparent and comprehensive deactivation procedure. Affected customers can regain access to services by completing the registration process,” Kambinda explained.

The SIM registration initiative, driven by security and privacy concerns, represents a significant step towards modernizing Namibia’s telecommunications infrastructure.

Both MTC and TN are facilitating the registration process for affected users, emphasizing the importance of compliance for uninterrupted service.

The focus in the grace period will be on mobilizing unregistered SIM card owners to act promptly.

Both service providers will assist customers through the process.

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