After the Ricapocalypse - TechCentral

After the Ricapocalypse

SA cellular operators are yet to provide details of how many subscribers were disconnected from their networks on Thursday night as the deadline arrived for consumers to register their Sim cards under the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Communication-Related Information Act (Rica).

Vodacom, MTN and Cell C all say they have disconnected customers that failed to complete the process in time, but none had figures available on Friday morning.

On Friday morning, MTN was still finalising the figures of those disconnected, but says: “Initial indications are that the numbers are not significant.”

MTN has also warned subscribers that have been cut off that even if they complete the process they might not be immediately reconnected.

“Our system cannot reconnect all the customers in one go,” the operator says. “These subscribers are being reconnected in batches. We wish to appeal to our customers who have ‘Rica’d’ but have not been connected to exercise patience,” says MTN’s customer relationship executive, Eddie Moyce.

Vodacom has confirmed it had disconnected just under a million of its subscribers. On Thursday, Vodacom experienced a widespread network failure resulting in a large number of furious subscribers. The network’s efforts to appease its subscribers and check the fidelity of its network may mean its precise figures take longer than its competitors’ to collate and release.

Richard Boorman, Vodacom’s executive head of media relations, says those who have been disconnected will have six months to complete the Rica process and keep their existing numbers. Thereafter, their numbers will be permanently disconnected and “recycled”. Vodacom will keep its registration centres in schools, townships and taxi ranks running until 4 July. Thereafter, subscribers will have to register at Vodacom stores.

Like MTN, Vodacom will not be able to reconnect customers immediately after they complete the Rica process. “It will take up to 24 hours from the time the process is completed for line to become active again,” Boorman says.

Cell C’s public and media relations manager, Karin Fourie, says aside from minor problems with registrations around lunchtime on Thursday, Cell C had done what was required of it and disconnected those of its subscribers who had failed to meet the Rica requirements before the deadline.

Fourie says that Cell C saw a “significant increase in registrations every day of the last week with yesterday being the busiest”. Cell C is also in the process of finalising its figures regarding how many customers it has had to disconnect, and what percentage of those customers are prepaid or contract.

Seen by many analysts as both an enormous waste of resources and an infringement on individuals’ rights to privacy, Rica has been punted as an anti-crime measure by government.  — Craig Wilson, TechCentral

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