Telecom service providers directed to limit number of SIM cards issued per personMinors are limited to one card and need to get their parents to provide a proof of relationship document.
Nepal Telecommunications Authority has directed telecommunication service providers to stop selling more than two SIM/RIM cards to each person, which it said leaves room for the misuse of cards, especially in criminal cases. The cellular companies had been directed to enforce the new provision from July 8.
The authority said that multiple uses of SIM/RIM cards pose a potential risk on digital payment and banking systems.
Min Prasad Aryal, director at the authority, said that the increasing use of digital payment systems has made transactions more efficient in several ways but the untraceability of digital cash may encourage criminal activities such as money laundering.
With the utilisation of multiple cards on other digital services and social media which stores customer information in the phone, it could also pose a potential risk for criminal activities, he said. The limited distribution of cards for each individual will, however, make it easier to trace the activities, according to officials.
He said that as the government is also planning to introduce a Citizens Apps where mobile phones will be the primary way to access it. “So, we thought that the limited distribution of SIM cards will minimise potential criminal activities,” he said, adding that the directive has been issued as per international practice.
It became important to introduce the rule as the authority recently received complaints of misutilisation of mobile numbers, he added.
Similarly, Nepal Telecom has directed service providers to issue a limit of three SIM/RIM cards per person using CDMA service.
For minors, the parents should provide a proof of relationship document as well as other documents when getting a SIM card for minors. Telecommunication service providers can only issue one SIM or RIM card per minor.
In case of customers who have already registered more than one SIM card from telecommunication service providers, the cards need to be registered under the names of people who have been using it. However, customers can take two SIM cards from each service provider, he said
Recently, the telecom authority directed the firms to distribute SIM cards and provide a new one if the customer lost or damaged their original once they show a document to prove their identity. Customers can use their citizenship certificate, voter identity card, passport or any other valid identification determined by the authority.
If telecommunication service providers do not adhere to the regulation as directed by the authority, they will face action as per the Telecommunication Act, 2053.
Among four licenced telecommunication service providers, Nepal Telecom, Ncell and Smart Cell have been providing the service. According to a management and information system report, there are 19,652,285 Nepal Telecom subscribers, 16,291,997 of Ncell and 2,130,008 of Small Cell as of mid-May.