The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has warned that it may have to extend the SIM card registration deadline beyond April 26th, as only 25% of subscribers have registered so far.
In order to meet the initial deadline, approximately three million SIM cards per day need to be registered, a target that seems unachievable with the current rate of registration. As of March 7th, just 24.54% of the 169.98 million SIMs across the country have been registered with their respective telco providers, according to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).
The SIM Card Registration Act, also known as Republic Act 11934, mandates that all existing subscribers must register their mobile numbers with their service provider. The aim is to combat digital fraud, as the government will be able to track all SIM cards once they are registered.
The telco players are working with both local and national governments to register the SIMs of subscribers in areas with poor or no connectivity. Once the law is passed, telcos will be instructed to deactivate any SIM cards that are sold to the public without approval.
Undersecretary Anna Mae Lamentillo has said that the DICT may consider extending the SIM card registration deadline for an additional 120 days, but the priority is to increase the number of registrants before April 26th. The telcos are working to register their subscribers, but Smart Communications is currently leading the way with 31% of its user base registered, followed by Dito Telecommunity Corp. at 24%, and Globe Telecom Inc. at 20%.
In January, the government was optimistic that the April 26th deadline could be met and rejected the option of an extension. However, with the current situation, it seems unlikely that the deadline will be met without an extension. If granted, the deadline will be moved by at least 120 days, and any users who have yet to register will have their mobile numbers deactivated and will only be reactivated upon signing up with their telco provider.
The DICT is urging subscribers to register their SIMs as soon as possible to avoid deactivation. The agency is also calling on the telco companies to speed up the registration process and to assist subscribers who may encounter difficulties in the process.