I have heard many absurd proposals related to the mobile industry, but this about takes the cake. Pakistan’s government is considering a radical plan which could dramatically alter the mobile phone industry in the country – as it mulls proposals to ban Prepaid SIM cards from sale. The Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that the government is considering a phased ban on all prepaid SIM cards in an effort to clamp down on terrorism in the country. However, with something in the region of 97% of the entire mobile subscriber base on PrePay tariffs, the impact on the industry would be huge. In addition to the costs of upgrading billing systems to cope with the surge in contract customers, and having facilities in retail stores to cope with the migration – the networks would also face a hole in their finances as payments switch from in advance, to monthly in arrears.
The Kim-family-owned North Korea has the world’s lowest mobile penetration despite having issued a 3G license to Orascom. Right next to them at the bottom of the league table is Myanmar, which used to charge a horrendous fee to get connected only to postpaid. Now it appears that they have started offering some kind of non-renewable prepaid. Even mothballed Myanmar is coming along, albeit slowly. Until recently, its military rulers did not permit pre-paid mobile services on its network.