The trial run for biometric registration of mobile phone SIM cards has started.
Prime Minister’s ICT Affairs Adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy inaugurated the process on Wednesday by registering a SIM for himself.
“Bangladesh is the second country in the world to introduce this and I am proud of it,” he told a ceremony at the telecoms ministry.
A SIM card by state-owned operator Teletalk was issued to Joy, the prime minister’s son and her adviser.
As soon as his fingerprints were fed, the Teletalk server accessed the national ID database bringing up Joy’s details.
Telecoms Secretary Md Faizur Rahman Chowdhury then handed over the SIM card to Joy
Subscribers would be able to register using the new system at the customer care centres of the mobile phone operators from Nov 1.
The operators will begin the final registration process using the biometric system from Dec 16, State Minister for Telecommunications Tarana Halim had said.
Currently, Bangladesh has six mobile phone operators including Teletalk. The other five are Grameenphone, Robi, Airtel, Banglalink and Citycell.
According to telecoms regulator BTRC, more than 130 million of Bangladesh’s 160 million people had mobile phone SIMs until August this year. Of them, 52.5 million had internet connections.
The initiatives to verify subscribers’ information and SIM re-registration were taken recently after allegations that many of the SIMs were either registered under fake names or unregistered.
Criminals and terrorists have been reportedly using many of these SIMs.
After the process to crosscheck subscribers’ information with the National Identity Registration Wing’s server started, it was found that around 75 percent of the 10 million SIM cards verified until now were ‘not registered properly’.
Only 2.34 million SIMs were registered properly, according to government statistics.
A case of 14,000 SIMs purchased against a single ‘fake’ NID card also came to light during the process.
Three more NIDs were found to have been used to register between 6,000 and 11,000 SIMs from different operators.
After that, the government last month had said that they would introduce the system for SIM registration with biometric data on a trial basis from November.
Source: Bd news24