Pakistan’s biometric verification of SIMs leads to 16% decline in teledensity
Following the Pakistan government’s Biometric Verification System (BVS) drive, cellular companies have seen a loss of 25.375 million subscribers, while the country’s teledensity has seen a 16% decline in Fiscal Year 2014-15 (FY15), according to a report by Daily Times.
Telecom companies previously reported a decline in sales after the Pakistan government enforced all SIM card activations to be biometrically verified through the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) database.
According to the latest stats released by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), the country’s telecom sector suffered a huge drop in sales in FY15 as the government’s new security measures to curb terrorism resulted in the number of national cellular subscribers drop from 139.98 million users in FY14 to 114.75 million users at the end of June 2015.
The country’s cellular teledensity, which is defined as the number of customers per 100 people, decreased from 76.46% at the end of June 2014 to 60.7% by the end of FY15.
Following last year’s Peshawar school attack, the government decided to make it mandatory for all telecom carriers to verify all the un-registered and un-verified SIMs as a security measure.
The country’s cellular companies successfully completed the biometric verification of SIMs by the August 1, 2015 deadline.
On January 12, 2015, cellular companies spent nearly $60 million for a biometric re-verification drive that lasted 90 days, in which it installed more than 80,000 biometric re-verification devices.
Despite the government’s biometric verification efforts, thousands of unverified SIMs are working throughout Pakistan.
According to official figures, all major five operators have disabled approximately 26 million fraudulent connections during the biometric verification drive, or companies have otherwise managed to verify 114 million connections while the blocked SIMs are still being successfully verified by the users.
Since cellular companies issued new connections during and after the drive, the PTA’s reported subscriber numbers in FY15 and FY14 may not reflect the accurate numbers of connections that were blocked by the companies as they may have blocked more than 25 million SIMs (PTA failed to provide the actual numbers of blocked SIMs).