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SIM Registration: Regulator audits mobile network operators

SIM Registration: Regulator audits mobile network operators

A nationwide SIM Registration audit exercise to review compliance among mobile network operators MNOs is underway, the telecoms regulator says.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says it started the second phase of its Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) registration verification and compliance audit nationwide.

Professor Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive, NCC, says the audit exercise will provide assurance on the integrity of the SIM registration database and processes across all MNOs, was part of its efforts to enhance national security, ensure consumer protection and promote zero tolerance for “registration-related infractions.

SIM Registration: Regulator audits mobile network operators
Technology Times file photo shows a mobile phone users undergoing SIM Registration

Specifically, the the audit, that will not affect the ongoing “back-end verification and scrubbing” of SIM registration data already submitted by MTN, Glo, Airtel, 9Mobile and Mtel, “will monitor operators’ strict adherence to the technical and other specifications for subscribers”, he says.

According to him, the NCC Telephone Subscribers Registration Regulations of 2011 and the Technical Standards and Specifications issued by the commission in 2011 spelt out the required specifications.

Danbatta says that NCC is determined to ensure that all SIM cards “are traceable to their real owners with the least effort” noting that the regulatory agency “remains very sensitive to the subscriber registration database as a veritable tool by security and law enforcement agencies.”

SIM Registration: Regulator audits mobile network operators
Engineer Aliyu Aziz, Director General/CEO of National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), seen during an interview with Technology Times at the NIMC Headquarters in Abuja

According to him, “the verification exercise is a continuation of the NCC’s regulatory interventions to establish a clean and credible SIM registration data base used in detecting and apprehending criminals involved in crimes like kidnapping, financial crimes, armed robberies, banditry, cattle rustling and other crimes leveraged on easy access to the national telecoms network in the country.”

In August 2015, the mobile network operators were given a deadline to disconnect SIMs found not to be fully compliant with registration requirements; errant operators were sanctioned, just as a SIM Registration Task Force was set up in 2017 to further harmonize registration practices across all networks, he adds.

The Task Force’s work culminated in the recent establishment of a joint Industry Working Group made up of the NCC, NIMC and MNOs’ representatives “mandated to harmonise the subscriber registration process with the National Identity Card Registration Project.”

Danbatta says that, “verification and scrubbing of SIM Registration data is currently on-going to ensure the integrity of data submitted to the Commission by the MNOs, before cleaned-up data are fed into the central database warehoused by NIMC.”

Accordingly, “the audit is a natural next step to ensure not only are the data already submitted fully-compliant, but that operators maintained the highest standards of registration practices across all touch-points.

“This will ensure subscriber data the operators collect continue to serve the national security and other interests for which subscriber registration was mandated.”

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