Telecoms ministry says it has deactivated more than 34 million SIM cards

More than 34 million SIM cards have been deactivated so far this year due to improper registration, according to an official from Myanmar’s Ministry of Transport and Communications.

The cards were taken out of circulation because their owners failed to re-register them by a June 30 deadline, said Myo Swe, the director-general of the ministry’s telecommunications department.

Under Myanmar law, users are required to register SIM cards under their National Registration Card (NRC) numbers.

Most of the invalidated SIM cards had been purchased in bulk for resale by shops or street vendors, said Myo Swe. Multiple SIM cards registered under the same NRC number were also deactivated, he added.

SIM card users were told in February that they would have until the end of June to re-register.

“We instructed users to check if their phone number was registered to their NRC and if not to go to a nearby shop to get it registered. We even gave instructions on social media. SIM cards that were unregistered or registered with the wrong details were shut down,” the director-general of the telecommunications department told Myanmar Now.

Myanmar has four major telecommunications providers: MPT, Telenor, Ooredo and MyTel. Each company had between six and nine million cards taken out of circulation.

On average, each of the deactivated cards had a remaining balance of 50 to 100 kyat. The total value of deactivated cards from MPT and Telenor was about 60 million kyat ($46,600) for each company, while Ooredoo and Mytel each lost more than 25 million kyat ($19,340) worth of cards.

Telenor Group’s third quarterly report stated that the company lost about 6.3 million SIM cards as a result of the deactivation process.

The report showed a sales spike of 4 million new users during the three-month period, but this turned into a net loss of more than 2 million customers after the 6.3 million deactivated cards were eliminated from the total.

Telenor has over 23 million registered users in Myanmar.

The more than 170 million kyat ($132,000) in remaining balance from the unused cards was donated to the national-level central committee for Covid-19 prevention, control and treatment.

There were around 79 million SIM cards in operation in the country as of September 2020, according to ministry figures.

Source : Myanmar Now

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