The Inquirer (Monrovia)

13 August 2014

Liberia: Cellcom Intensifies SIM Registration

Cellcom Telecommunications Inc, has announced new intensified measures to ensure that all of its more than 1 million subscribers are registered.

The company says it has put in place the new measures in line with regulations from the Liberian Telecommunications Authority (LTA) and the Government of Liberia (GOL) in a bid to help reduce crime and prevent hoax calls, which are usually associated with numbers which cannot be traced to an owner.

New security measures put in place as part of the ongoing national state of emergency recently declared by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to fight the Ebola virus in Liberia is one of the key reason for the company's push to ensure the registration of all SIM cards. By ensuring the registration or blocking of all SIM cards will help prevent the use of unregistered SIM cards to make prank calls or carry out activities that could compromise national security.

The company's spokesperson has also pointed to LTA's recent discovery of a large consignment of illegal SIM boxes using unregistered mobile numbers to divert much needed revenue from the GOL as another reason to ensure the registration of all SIM cards.

Corporate Communications Strategist Dr. Kimmie Weeks highlighted that use of illegal SIM boxes to reroute incoming international calls robs government of hundreds of thousands of United States dollars in revenue. Weeks observed: "in these difficult times, when the government needs all of the resources it can get to fight this deadly disease, we cannot allow that revenue to be stolen by shady individuals and companies who are taking advantage of using unregistered SIM cards." He underscored that going forward, none of Cellcom's sales agents, stores, or point of sale centers would sell SIM cards or mobile devices without first registering the number.

Last week, Cellcom's CEO Mr. John Vasikaran announced that the company would block all unregistered numbers on its system by August 7, 2014. "We are painfully aware that many legitimate customers will be affected by the block, but we believe in abiding by the laws of Liberia and must support government's efforts to protect the people of Liberia." He noted that Cellcom had made the registration process free, easy and efficient to ensure what he called "maximum results." Vasikaran encouraged customers to take advantage of the free registration process in order to secure the number and ensure the continuation of services.

Mr. Vasikaran said that as part of if its efforts to ensure the registration of all of its customers, Cellcom had invested in new equipment for all of itssales centers, point of sales centers, as well as sales counters at Total Service Stations across the country.

He went on to disclose that Cellcom had hired a large team of part time young people to carryout registration in local communities in Monrovia and adjacent areas. The move comes in a bid to enhance the registration process, while also providing temporary job solution to young people who are not in school because of the several weeks of mandatory shut down of the education system. "We are doing everything we can to ensure that this process is accessible to all," Said Vasikaran.

During the registration process, Cellcom subscribers have been enabled to verify the status of their registration by sending a text message with the words "REG" to the number 5434 to receive confirmation of registration or to initiate the registration process from their mobile device.

All new SIMs registered in August 2014 would receive 50MB of data and 50 minutes of voice calls for 24 hours. Vasikaran admonished subscribers to take advantage of the grace period and bonuses to register their SIM cards to prevent their numbers from being permanently blocked.Dr. Weeks encouraged Cellcom's subscribers to ensure the registration of their SIM cards to continue to benefit from access to Cellcom's services during the state of emergency.

This includes the ability to call the ebola emergency response hotline on the toll free number 4455 to get information about ebola or report suspected cases, benefit of the three days of free calls, as well as the Cellcom's new program which allows customers to dial the United States, France, Canada, China, Portugal, Germany, Italy and India at 50 Cents.

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