Registration requirement to dampen SIM card sales, says DICT
The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is expecting the sales of SIM (subscriber identity module) cards to decline with the advent of the mandatory registration, which is being ramped up now in remote areas as the government targets to meet the Apr. 26 deadline.
Information and Communication Technology Secretary Ivan John Uy, in a press briefing on Tuesday, said the SIM card enlistment could dampen demand as cybercriminals would be deterred from illegally using them for scams.
Uy shared that perpetrators usually buy SIM cards in bulk and dispose them after perpetrating their crime.
The SIM card registration measure, which was passed in Oct. 2022, requires mobile subscribers to submit a valid ID, which eliminates the anonymity of the users.
Being able to send text scams anonymously is being exploited by the hackers because they are less likely to be tracked. As a result, there has been a surge in text scams since last year as hackers take advantage of the increasing digital adoption.
In a statement on Tuesday, Globe Telecom Inc. reported it blocked 2.72 billion scam and spam messages last year, which was more than double the 1.15 billion fraudulent texts tracked in 2021. It also foiled 83.4 million bank-related spam messages last year.
With the anticipated decline in SIM card sales, Uy advised the telcos to slow down with the production of SIM cards.
“After all this registration, there will be much fewer SIM cards that are going to be sold,” he said, referring to the local users. Uy said that most of the SIM cards would just be sold at airports for foreign travelers.
“So, if I were them, I would not order new SIM cards from manufacturers. I would just make sure that the existing inventory [will be sold],” the DICT official added.
The Inquirer reached out to telcos for comments but has not yet received a reply as of press time.
Meanwhile, the DICT also said the pilot test of assisted SIM card registration in remote areas is set to be conducted from Jan. 25 to 27 in 15 locations in several provinces across the country.
It will be rolled out in Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte; Moalboal, Cebu; Palo, Leyte; Pangantucan, Bukidnon; Malalag, Davao del Sur; Atok, Benguet; Camalaniugan, Cagayan; Calumpit, Bulacan; Rosario, Batangas; and in Zamboanga City.
Other areas for the pilot test include Baco, Oriental Mindoro; City of Ligao, Albay; Carles, Iloilo; Arakan, Cotabato; and Tagbina, Surigao del Sur.
In a statement on Tuesday, Information and Communication Technology Undersecretary Anna Mae Lamentillo said they would reach out to mobile subscribers with limited internet access to help them comply with the mandatory enlistment process.
“The government-led facilitation of SIM registration in remote areas is intended to ensure that the implementation of the law is inclusive and that we finish the SIM registration on time,” she said.
As of Jan. 22, some 24.12 SIM cards have been already registered or 14.27 percent of the more than 168 million subscribers.
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