Economy, Sci & Tech

Iran Disables More Unregistered SIM Cards

Iran Disables More Unregistered SIM Cards
Iran Disables More Unregistered SIM Cards

An estimated 30 million SIM cards are in the process of being disconnected according to a deputy from the Telecoms Ministry, ICTNA reported on February 18.

SIM cards that had been used but are not registered to the rightful owners have been a major source of contention for operators and the governments alike because several hundred thousands are lying in drawers around the country for the past several years.

Hossein Fallah Joshaghani told the state broadcaster that the program to disconnect the unregistered SIMs is underway. It is likely that 30 million cards will be re-released to the operators to be resold.

He said the process began in August last year and by December six million cards had been disabled.

Three million cards from Irancell and a similar number from Hamrah-e-Aval networks have been removed from the system with an additional 40,000 SIM from Taliya also being sent back to the operator. The remainder was from the third largest mobile operator RighTel. 

The news follows a previous report in the Financial Tribune that 2 million unidentified SIMs were blocked from making outgoing calls and texts in January. The owners of those SIMs had until January 19 to contact the operators and register their identity.

Details that the Communications Regulatory Authority demands include the national ID number of owners and residential address. "Measures taken for sorting unidentified SIM cards have proven effective," the state news agency quoted the deputy minister as saying. He did not elaborate.

A plan to regulate SIM cards was launched two years ago. In the first stage those who owned more than 10 SIM cards were identified. The measure was taken to sell idle numbers and reduce prank calls. The last phase of the plan is now underway.

"When the plan was first launched there were 30 million unidentified SIM cards. Now it is 4.5 million," Asadi said.

A website was created in March 2016 to sort out the ID issues of mobile phone subscribers. By referring to the customers know the number of SIM cards registered in their names.

There are three major mobile phone operators in Iran: Hamrah-e-Avval or MCI, Irancell, and RighTel.  Active cell phone users have a penetration rate of 98.72%.

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