BTRC to fine operators for false SIM info

DHAKA, Feb 11, 2017 (BSS) - Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) is going to take stern actions, including financial penalty, if any mobile phone operator's retailers are found involved with selling SIM cards using false information.

The regulator is insisting that actions be taken, as the operators are pressurizing retailers to increase SIM cards selling to grab more customers, said officials.

Talking to BSS, BTRC Chairman Dr Shahjahan Mahmood today said they have no alternative to taking punitive measures to uphold the success of SIM verification using biometric system.

"We will fine heavily so operators don't pressurize their retailers," he vowed.

BTRC under the direct supervision of the posts and telecommunications division (PTD) concluded the five-month biometric SIM verification campaign successfully in May last year to ensure the actual ownership of mobile phone users.

But, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) in an overnight drive on Thursday arrested private operator Banglalink's zonal manager as well as owner and manager of its retailer M R Communication along with 58 sales agents for their involvement of using false information for selling new SIM cards.

During the raid to M R Communication's office, RAB found its staff using false addresses, printing fake national ID cards, and attaching copies of them to SIM card registration forms, in presence of the Banglalink zonal manager.

According to the RAB officials, they found a mismatch between customers' information and their addresses while investigating some recent complaints of threats.

Immediately after the arrest and seizure, Banglalink by sending letter informed BTRC that it has cancelled the retailership of M R Communication.

But, the BTRC Chairman said: "That is not enough. Operator has to take the responsibility of retailers' unlawful jobs."

Mentioning that the "ultimate responsibility" is lies with the operators, Shahjahan Mahmood said: "It would not be allowed that another retailer would be appointed cancelling one for crime."

He also termed the cancellation of retailership by Banglalink as the "way of avoiding responsibility" and said, "We (BTRC) are not happy with that".

Referring to a meeting with the operators at the PTD, the regulatory body chairman said he had asked the operators to refrain from pressurizing and fixing ceiling of selling SIM cards as Bangladesh is near the saturation for mobile phone connectivity.

"I've directed my colleagues (BTRC officials) to initiate an exemplary punishment so they (operators) keep in mind that they have to face punitive measures for such crime," he added.

M R Communication gave targets to its sales agents to sell at least 8,000 SIM cards per month. In a hurry, the sales agents just took finger prints and the national ID numbers to activate the SIM cards and give them to customers but they did not take photos or other information. Later, they used to fill a fake form and attach copies of fake national ID cards and photos with it.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)