Illegal bypass contaminates telecom markets and beyond

Posted on December 31, 2014  /  1 Comments

The Government of Pakistan has ordered an expensive re-verification process of all mobile SIMs in the aftermath of the Peshawar Massacre. Aslam Hayat, a LIRNEasia alumnus now with Telenor Pakistan, has pointed out that the root cause is being ignored:

However this does not mean that the system is foolproof, there is possibility that at the retail-end, some of the sellers may violate standard operating procedures (SOPs) for small gains without the support and knowledge of the mobile operators. The big question is why somebody would do this and why there is demand for SIMs on fake subscriptions.

Without fear of contradiction, I can say with confidence that no franchisee or a retailer will ever knowingly sell a SIM to a terrorist or a person having intent to commit a heinous crime. The dominant buyer of bulk SIMs is the group of people involved in bringing grey international incoming calls.

We engaged most intensely with the grey market in Bangladesh a few years back. Sriganesh Lokanathan even made a presentation on the subject at an ITS conference.

Without question, the differential between international and domestic termination charges causes more problems than the legal revenue it generates. Why can we not agree that the two must be brought closer, if not equalized?

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