Six major mobile phone firms were yesterday fined a total of 649m/- for malpractices and misuse in SIM card registration. They have also been given a seven-day ultimatum, starting yesterday, to deactivate all unregistered SIM cards.
Announcing the decision in Dar es Salaam, the Acting Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA) Director General, Engineer James Kilaba, named the firms as Airtel Tanzania Limited, SMART, TIGO, Halotel, Vodacom Tanzania Limited and Zantel.
He said the mobile phone service providers had been given until July 31 to pay the fine and submit a report of compliance to the authority on a number of areas, failure of which stern legal actions will be taken against them.
Eng Kilaba urged providers to stop immediately the use of unauthorised distributors, dealers and agents in selling and or distributing SIM cards. Moreover, they have to ensure that their SIM cards were only sold by authorised agents with traceable physical locations and Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN).
Some of the malpractices, which have forced the TRCA to impose the fine include allowing SIM cards being sold without using subscribers' own identity documents, SIM card sold without filling registration forms, selling pre-activated SIM cards and allowing SIM cards, which are partially registered to be activated and used in their networks.
The acting director-general said on April 13, 2013, TCRA met with the mobile phone service providers in the country and agreed to ensure that all shortfalls as far as SIM card registration were concerned should be addressed as they should not allow any unregistered SIM cards to be active.
He said from time to time they had been conducting surveys in the market to ensure implementation of the order but it has been realised that as of June 3, 2016 six companies were not complying with the directives.
Eng Kilaba noted that the companies were directed to submit their verbal and written defence as to why measures should not be imposed against them for defying the agreement on SIM cards registration.
According to him, Airtel Tanzania Limited has been fined 182.5m/-, MIC Tanzania Limited, trading as Tigo, -- 189m/-, Vodacom Tanzania 96.5m/- and Zanzibar Telecom Limited 57m/- for four counts of allowing SIM cards to be sold without using subscribers' own identity documents.
Others are the sale of SIM card without filling registration forms, selling pre-activated SIM cards and allowing SIM cards that are partially registered for reactivation and use in their networks. Benson Informatics Limited, trading as SMART, has been fined 17m/- while Viettel Tanzania, known as Halotel, has been fined 107m/- for three counts.
Eng Kilaba reminded subscribers on the need to follow registration regulations as they were liable to a 500,000/- fine or three months in jail term. They are required to dial *106# to know their SIM card registration status.
On the switching-off of fake and duplicate mobile phones, Eng Kilaba said that as of yesterday, there were 1,713,337 mobile phones with invalid IMEI while those with duplicate IMEI counted 117,389.