NTC-6 to open offline SIM reg in remote areas next year

A subscriber tries to register his Smart SIM using a QR code. (Handout from Smart)

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

The National Telecommunications Commission-Region 6 (NTC-6) on Wednesday announced that it would hold offline activities for mobile users to get their Subscriber Identity Modules (SIMs) registered under a new law after the first-day online registration was marred with delays and website crashes.

NTC-6 legal officer Deo Virgil Tan told Daily Guardian that they will be setting up these registrations in remote areas where mobile data may be scarce, thus it would be impossible for users to register their SIMs through online portals.

“We will have remote offline registration. We are just verifying the priority areas which we need to go to together with our telecommunications companies, in coordination with the local government units. Right now, we are just identifying the areas closest to the people, especially those experiencing limited to no signal at all, so that it would be easier for them to go,” Tan said in a phone interview.

Further announcements will be posted by NTC-6, with schedules to be released in the next weeks.

Tan also emphasized that users who weren’t successful in registering last Tuesday, December 27, when online registration opened through the Public Telecommunications Entities or PTEs (DITO, Globe, and Smart), could still register until April 26, 2023.

“The 180 days prescribed by law will end on April 26, 2023. We noticed that many had registered [on Dec. 27], and thought that if they don’t get registered by then, their unregistered SIM cards would be deactivated. They have sufficient time to register. They just need to log in through [PTEs’] websites,” he said.

SIM registrations are automatically approved after users have successfully completed their registration process, with a reference number to be provided which they must keep in case they need to amend their personal information.

But those who received messages stating that their information needs to be further verified may have had ‘hits’ in their PTEs’ systems.

“Their accounts may have been tagged with their [PTEs]. [PTEs] have their own computer systems to verify the identification cards being submitted if the user really is the one using the [SIMs]. They may have been tagged, that is why there is a need for further confirmation,” he said.

Tan advised that postpaid subscribers, who have been told by PTEs that they would no longer need to go through the process, would still need to verify and confirm their information with their respective PTEs.

“There are a lot of postpaid subscribers who have account names differing from the actual user. The law provides that there is still a need to verify the said postpaid SIM card,” Tan said.

As to whether the registration period would be extended, he said that this would be decided by their parent agency, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), before the April 26 deadline.

“The jurisdiction for the extension relies upon the DICT, they have the discretion whether the 180 days is sufficient for registration of all unregistered SIM cards in the country. But if they think that this needs to be extended for 120 days, before April 26 they will notify,” he said.

Tan added that they are actively monitoring complaints on social media and over the DICT’s hotline 1326 especially on unsuccessful registrations on Tuesday.

“Our telecommunications services are making the necessary adjustments to optimize their systems and fix the SIM registration,” he said.

He also raised complaints that even the SIM registration process has become part of text scams, goading users via false links purporting to be the PTEs’ application forms.

“We continue to remind the public because SIM card registrations are also being taken advantage of by scammers. We received complaints that there were messages stating the official links by the telcos for SIM card registration, but these are actually snitching links,” Tan said.

“Please verify the links that you are accessing, because they may not be official, and that may lead to unauthorized disclosure of your personal data. Our official links are pasted on [PTEs’] official websites, and NTC, the media, and the government also posts the links and guides in implementation of the SIM card registration,” he added.

The SIM card registration is mandated under Republic Act No. 11934 (SIM Registration Act), signed into law by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on October 10.

The new law is designed to “promote responsibility in the use of [SIMs] and provide law enforcement agencies the tools to resolve crimes which involve its utilization and a platform to deter the commission of wrongdoings.”