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Telcos told to explain SIM registration issues

PEOPLE are seen using their mobile phones in Divisoria, Manila, Dec. 27. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ EDD GUMBAN

THE National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) ordered the country’s major mobile network carriers to explain issues encountered on the first day of the mandatory subscriber identity module (SIM) card registration.

NTC Deputy Commissioner and Officer-in-Charge Ella Blanca B. Lopez issued a memorandum dated Dec. 27 to DITO Telecommunity Corp., Globe Telecom, Inc., and Smart Communications, Inc., asking them to submit the written report the next day.

“You are hereby directed to report to this commission the incidents of incomplete registration, platform involved, number of subscribers affected, geographical area, and actions taken to address these issues, as well as actions to mitigate or eliminate future incidents of similar nature,” Ms. Lopez said in the memorandum.

She said the commission received “numerous incidents involving unsuccessful or incomplete SIM registration from the general public” on Tuesday, the first day of the mandatory SIM card registration.

“There are also initial social media reports of registration sites being down or inaccessible to subscribers,” she added.

Sought for comment, DITO said in a statement that it was already in “close coordination” with the commission.

DITO said there were close to 500,000 subscribers who registered their SIM cards as of 1 p.m. on Wednesday.

The third telco player has said nearly 15 million subscribers and potential customers are expected to register.    

Smart, the wireless arm of the PLDT group, said separately that it was already preparing to send its report to the NTC. Smart has around 67 million subscribers who need to register their SIM cards.

BusinessWorld is still awaiting comment from Globe Telecom regarding the NTC memorandum.

In a statement e-mailed to reporters late Tuesday, the Ayala-led telco said it reported to the NTC that its SIM registration portal, new.globe.com.ph/simreg, was inaccessible on the first day. Globe’s registration portal was accessible as of 4 p.m. on Wednesday.

“Globe is committed to making SIM registration easy and convenient for its 87.9 million customers. However, it is very unfortunate that we discovered potential minor vulnerabilities in our microsite that require careful patching in order to prevent any serious threat to customer data,” Globe said.

“We take this very seriously hence even minor issues are given utmost attention. This happened despite all the preparation, technical tests and due diligence we have conducted,” it added.

Globe said that such issues prompted the company to make the site temporarily inaccessible as customer data security is “paramount and any problem detected is treated with utmost severity.”

It asked the NTC for a maximum of 72 hours to monitor its SIM registration portal to ensure it is technically stable.

Smart said on Tuesday that its registration site also experienced latencies due to a high volume of subscribers accessing the portal.

The SIM Card Registration Act, which took effect on Oct. 28, requires the registration of all SIM cards in the country.

All mobile device users have to register their SIMs on their telcos’ authorized registration platforms within 180 days from the effectivity of the law or until April 26, 2023. The DICT may extend the registration period by another 120 days.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Arjay L. Balinbin

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