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NBTC to impose new system to register prepaid SIM cards

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) is expected to introduce this month a new way for telecoms to register new prepaid mobile-phone subscribers in its attempt to regulate this market and encourage new customers to register their SIM cards.

If people decline to participate in this new application-based method, their SIM cards will not be activated, according to NBTC deputy secretary-general Korkij Danchaivichit.

An NBTC source said this would also comply with the "national security" policy of the military coup-makers' National Council for Peace and Order.

However, this registration method cannot be used with pre-activated SIM cards that have already been circulated in the market. The method will be used with new lots of the SIM cards, which are not pre-activated. The NBTC has instructed all five mobile-phone operators to adopt it.

Here is how it works. The staff member selling the SIM card will download the app on to the mobile phone. The app is compatible with all mainstream mobile-phone operating systems. He or she will use the app to take a picture of the SIM card code and the buyer's ID card.

Then the app will immediately send these data to the NBTC's computer server, which is connected with the servers of the five telecom operators. The NBTC server will verify the ID card information, and if correct, will send the verified data back to the telecom operator's server, which will activate the SIM card.

Korkij insisted that the data would not be stored in the mobile phones of shop staff, so the buyers need not worry about security.

The NBTC has instructed the telecom operators to launch campaigns to woo existing prepaid mobile-phone subscribers to register their SIM cards by this method. For example, such a campaign might offer additional wireless data usage time to those registering their existing SIM cards.

He said the NBTC was expected to introduce this new registration method before the end of this month.

Of the total of about 100 million mobile-phone numbers currently in use in Thailand, 90 per cent are prepaid. However, just a few are registered with the operators.

The NBTC imposed regulations requiring the operators to register information of the buyers of new prepaid SIM cards years ago but few consumers cooperated, reluctant to provide copies of their identity cards. The commission believes that this application-based method will make registering much more convenient for consumers.

The telecom operators have asked for authorisation from the Central Administrative Court to waive the existing regulations governing SIM card registration, claiming they are impractical.


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