MTN Uganda disconnects unregistered SIM cards to avoid hefty fine

Thursday November 19 2015

An MTN mobile money agent in Kampala. The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) in October gave telecom companies up to November 30 to switch off unregistered SIM cards in order to avoid being fined. PHOTO | FILE

An MTN mobile money agent in Kampala. The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) in October gave telecom companies up to November 30 to switch off unregistered SIM cards in order to avoid being fined. PHOTO | FILE 

By MARK KEITH MUHUMUZA

At least 300,000 MTN Uganda subscribers have been disconnected for failing to register their SIM cards.

Brian Gouldie, the chief executive officer of MTN Uganda, confirmed Wednesday that the subscribers had not taken part in the SIM card registration process.

“We have deactivated 300,000 SIM cards, which had not been registered. We have at least 11.4 million subscribers that are both partially and fully registered.”

The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) in October gave telecom companies up to November 30 to switch off unregistered SIM cards in order to avoid being fined.

This is the second deadline the regulator is issuing to telcos after the SIM card registration drive that closed on September 30, 2013 – after several extensions.

At the time, although a similar directive was issued that unregistered SIM cards be switched off but that didn’t happen. MTN’s largest problem is a section of users it refers to as “partially registered”.

According to Mr Gouldie, these are people who are yet to complete the registration process but have their documents with MTN.

MTN has been negotiating with the UCC to allow a further extension but the regulator has insisted on the November 30 deadline.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in October slapped MTN Nigeria with a $5.2 billion fine - one of the heaviest to be made on an African telco - for failing to disconnect 5.1 million unregistered subscribers.

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