5 voice & 3 data SIMs permitted against each CNIC
According to Pakistan’s latest news, the Supreme Court was informed that Cellular Mobile Operators (CMOs) would be authorised to issue five mobile phone voice SIMs and three data SIMs against a single Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC). Mian Shafaqat Jan, the counsel for China Mobile Pakistan (CMPak) Zong had filed a review petition, urging the Supreme Court of Pakistan to direct the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to restrain from extending the apex court’s order for maximum limit of 5 Voice SIMs to data-only SIMs.
In May 21, 2012, while taking a serious notice of the law and order situation in Balochistan, the apex court issued directives to reduce the number of SIMs from 10 to 5 only to be purchased against one CNIC – whether from one or more service providers. Mian Shafaqat Jan had pleaded that voice SIMs and data-only SIMs are two distinct categories, adding that his client does not wish to challenge the 5 SIM limit placed on voice SIMs by the Supreme Court because such SIMs category is totally different from data-only SIMs which provide data and internet services.
He argued that the feature of the services provided by Cellular Mobile Operators (CMOs) which distinguishes them from other PTA licensees, is their provision of mobile voice communication saying the data service provided by the CMOs are also being provided by WLL operators such as PTCL.
Jan categorically made the point that his client fundamental contention based upon the argument that the true spirit of the direction of the apex court order of May 21, 2012 is that the limit should apply only to voice services and not to data and internet services.
Jan told the court that his client has paid Rs 21 billion for its 4G license and is expecting a further expense of Rs 3 billion during expansion of its technology, adding approximately Rs 400 million is to be paid for advertisement of 4G technology.
“The applicant merely seeks a clarification from and a direction by the apex court to the effect that the 5-SIM limit does not apply to data-only SIMs to enable the applicant to get its due return from the huge investment it has made for becoming the first and only 4G licensee in Pakistan and also to provide a level playing field to the applicant like other licensees of the PTA,” he prayed the bench.
Appearing before a three-member bench led by the Chief Justice of Pakistan Anwar Zaheer Jamali in the matter, the PTA representative submitted that the Authority has revised its policy for the CMOs to issue three data-SIMs in addition to five voice SIMs to a subscriber. He further said that the PTA shall continuously revise its policy over the issuance of SIMs to which the Chief Justice Jamali categorically said that the PTA would be authorised to approve increase in the numbers of mobile phone SIMs without prior permission of the Court in future. After assurance of the PTA to allow the CMOs for issuance of three data-SIMs in addition to five voice SIMs against a single CNIC the court disposed of the matter.