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Vietnam Blocks SIM Cards Registered with Incorrect Personal Information

The Ministry of Information and Communications has cut off phone services for mobile phone subscribers whose personal information registration did not match the national population database. As of 21 March, around 1.1 million subscribers had provided accurate personal information, including names, identification numbers, and profile pictures, according to the Deputy Head of the Ministry’s Department of Telecommunications, Nguyen Phong Nha.

The information has matched the national database on population, which contains nearly 4 million mobile phone subscribers from popular carriers, including the state-run group, Viettel. As of late March, authorities estimated that the mobile carriers have completed the information update from only 27% of total acquired subscribers. According to the mobile carriers, many mobile subscribers have more than one SIM card or rarely use the SIM cards they have bought, so they did not receive notifications from the mobile carriers about the information update. Under Decree 49 on mobile telecommunications, all SIM cards that have been registered with incorrect or incomplete information were deactivated by the end of March, in an attempt to eliminate junk SIM cards.

Mobile phone providers sent notifications to subscribers with incorrect information to ask them to update their details. Those who failed to register their information as required will have their outgoing calls blocked in the first 15 days and have the service disconnected in the following days. The department had asked mobile phone providers to actively review and notify subscribers in appropriate forms to ensure that all users received notifications.

The move was part of the Ministry’s plan to crack down on telecom carriers that do not stop junk SIM cards in the market. Last month, the government instructed mobile networks to ensure that all the necessary authentication information of the subscriber is provided when registering.

As OpenGov Asia reported, telecom carriers need to update procedures and regulations on registering subscribers’ information following Decree 49/2017. In addition, mobile network operators are required to uphold their commitments with MIC and comply with the requests outlined in the legal documents issued by the Authority of Telecommunications (AOT). The agency intends to collaborate with local information and communications departments to oversee and inspect enterprises’ implementation process.

Enterprises that engage in serious violations, such as providing services to new subscribers with insufficient or inaccurate information or selling pre-entered SIM cards with activated mobile services, will be forced to halt the registration of new subscribers, the government has said.

MIC is considering strict punishment like suspending the right to register new subscribers for 3-6 months if telcos are found committing violations of regulations on mobile subscriber management. This is the first time that MIC has put in place heavy sanctions on mobile network operators.

Experts have noted that despite measures to punish violators, junk SIM cards still exist because the regulations are not respected. Despite making repeated promises to prevent the circulation of junk SIM cards, telecom carriers have failed to effectively address the issue and junk SIM cards are still in circulation.

According to MIC, Vietnam has 126 million mobile subscribers, and the market has become saturated. Annually, telecom carriers vie for 800,000 new subscribers, but they cannot alter their market share by simply competing for new subscribers. Hence, it is imperative to strengthen the registration process for new subscribers.

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