PEOPLE are seen using their cell phones along Claro M. Recto Avenue in Divisoria, Manila December 27. Mobile phone users are now required to register their subscriber identity module cards. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ EDD GUMBAN
The country’s major mobile operators faced a spate of consumer complaints on Tuesday after disruptions marred the first day of mandatory SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card registration.
The official Facebook pages of Globe Telecom, Inc., Smart Communications, Inc. and DITO Telecommunity Corp. were inundated with complaints from subscribers about technical problems registering their SIM cards.
In response to one user, Globe said: “We’re sorry if you’re having trouble accessing the SIM registration page which is currently in labor.”
Smart, the wireless arm of PLDT Inc., said in a statement that some of its subscribers may have had difficulty accessing the SIM registration website (“due to the high volume of registrants.”
A rep for newcomer DITO Telecommunity told reporters about Viber that it had managed to address “most of the complaints.”
“The first two weeks of SIM registration implementation is considered a testing period during which some disruptions or technical issues are expected as the public telecommunications facilities (PTE) fine-tune their respective processes,” the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said in a statement.
According to DICT, during the 15-day trial period, mobile operators should be able to assess what they need to improve to make the registration process more efficient and easier for subscribers, it added.
In an email statement, Globe said that “multiple customers” were able to access the registration page between 4am and 7am, but the portal went temporarily offline as the page was “optimized”.
Globe said securing the registration platform “within the day” works.
At the time of going to press, the website is still not accessible.
The Ayala-led telecom company said it will contact existing postpaid subscribers to confirm and complete their registration.
“Technical teams are working twice as hard to allow the online platform to go live before the day ends. Rest assured that we are optimizing our systems to offer you a better registration experience. We also want to remind our customers that there is plenty of time to register,” said Maria Yolanda C. Crisanto, Globe Group’s Director of Sustainability and Corporate Communications.
Globe estimates that its network has 87.9 million SIM users.
Meanwhile, PLDT Group’s head of corporate communications, Cathy Y. Yang, told Cignal TV’s One Balita Pilipinas news program that Smart has around 67 million subscribers who need to register their SIM cards.
“The three million of them are postpaid subscribers. The process is different with postpaid as they just have to send ‘yes’ to 5858,” she said in Filipino.
When Smart’s registration platform went live, there were technical issues, Ms Yang said, but these were fixed “immediately”.
Meanwhile, DITO said it has “nearly 15 million subscribers and potential customers” who are expected to sign up.
“Subscribers who successfully register their SIM cards will receive 2GB of bonus data,” DITO said in a statement.
The SIM card registration law, which came into force on October 28, requires the registration of all SIM cards in the country.
All mobile device users must register their SIMs on the authorized registration platforms of their telecommunications companies within 180 days of the law coming into force or by April 26, 2023. The DICT can extend the registration period by a further 120 days.
Under the rules, anyone who provides false information or uses fraudulent identification documents to register a SIM card faces up to two years in prison or a maximum fine of 300,000 pesetas.
Cell phone companies that fail or refuse to register SIM cards can face fines of up to Pta 1 million.
DICT has set up a 24/7 SIM Registration Complaints Center where subscribers can raise their concerns or make suggestions to improve the registration process.
DICT said concerns related to the SIM registration process can be raised via the 1326 hotline to its Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center.
Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., controls BusinessWorld through its controlled Philippine Star Group. — Arjay L. Balinbin