By Meleasie Goviro – EMTV News, Port Moresby
The Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC), has request that the Government extend the deadline for SIM card registration, for the sake of people living in rural areas.
ICCC Commissioner and CEO, Paulus Ain, says the deadline was unfair on the rural population.
Their findings suggest that the majority of unregistered SIM card users live in remote areas, where travelling to town, is already difficult for them. On average, a person travelling from a remote area spends between K150 to K200 to get into any town.
The ICCC has taken a firm stand to protect the interest of people living rural areas, with regard to the stringent requirements imposed by the National Information Communication Technology Authority (NICTA) for sim card registration and deactivation of unregistered sim cards.
The ICCC reports that most mobile phone users in rural areas of PNG’s 89 districts do not understand or have the legislated mandatory requirements to register a sim card.
ICCC findings also show that of the 1.4 million mobile phone users in the country, 80% live in remote areas; that’s about 1.12 million who will have been left unregistered.
The consumer watchdog has come down hard on network operators, Bemobile, Telikom and Digicel, for not taking more initiative to make registration accessible to rural communities.
ICCC, in its legal capacity -under Section 6 and 104 of the Independent Consumer and Competition Consumer Act 2002- has requested that government reconsider its decision, because it would only disadvantage rural communities from contact with their families; and deny them the of the benefits that come with mobile phone services.
Going forward, ICCC has suggested that network operators partner with NICTA and the Department of Information Communication and Energy to deploy teams to all 89 districts and work closely with ward councillors to register their respective ward members; and to do away with requirements of basic identification that would be difficult to people in rural areas to access.
The ICCC says it will continue to meet with NICTA, the mobile service providers, and the Department of Information Communication and Energy to ensure that all consumers with mobile phones in the rural area and remote parts of PNG are given a fair opportunity to conveniently have their SIM cards registered.