The telecom sector which is already in under pressure, thanks to Reliance Jio, is now going to face another trouble. We say this as Department of Telecom (DOT) has issued a notification in which the ministry wants that all telcos shall re-verify all existing mobile subscribers (prepaid and postpaid) through Aadhaar-based eKYC process, within one year.
DOT said in its notification that all licensees will have to inform existing subscribers - through advertisements in print and electronic media as well as SMS about the order of the Supreme Court for the re-verification activity. They have also been asked to upload the details of the exercise on their website.
However, the new - entrant Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio has started its operations in the country with Aadhar based signup and the customers are getting fully Activated Jio SIM Card.
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The telecom department has said the operators will use and share common device eco-system through mutual agreements and will work out mechanisms to avoid public inconvenience and long queues.
Meanwhile, Cellular operators' body COAI said its members may meet this week to discuss the modalities of rolling out the verification process for the existing one billion-plus mobile phone users, PTI reported.
COAI said that the industry supported the move, but pointed out that the entire exercise will cost Rs. 1,000 crores for infrastructure and training, which will have to be borne by the operators, the report added.
"The issue of fake subscribers will go away. We will try our best to cover the entire base within the stipulated time frame of one year but in case we cannot, we may ask DoT for an extension," COAI Director, General Rajan Mathews said.
The notification said, "After the completion of the eKYC process, before updating or overwriting the old subscriber detail in the database with the data received through the eKYC process, the licensee will seek confirmation from the subscriber about the re-verification of his/her mobile number after 24 hours through SMS."
The licensee may also re-verify more than one mobile connection issued by it in one service area through a single eKYC but not bulk connections. For issuing additional mobile connections to the re-verified subscriber, the operator would have to follow a separate eKYC process.
Verification of a subscriber would not be required in case of conversions - that is prepaid to postpaid connections or vice versa, it further added.
Recently, Supreme Court has also asked the Central government to link all mobile numbers to Aadhaar within a period of one year. The Apex Court urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government to frame policies regarding rules and regulations to ensure the fact that the SIMs (Subscriber Identification Module) are not misused by anyone.
The Apex court has said that its mandatory for all mobile subscribers including pre-paid SIM card users to link their SIM cards to Aadhaar cards. The Court asked the Centre to devise a plan for pre-paid SIM card users so that each person will have to fill and deposit a form whenever he or she recharges.