The deadline for consumers to comply with SA’s Sim card registration law is 30 June and, according to communications minister Roy Padayachie, no extension will be granted.
This comes after the original deadline of 31 December 2010 was extended by six months following complaints from operators to the department of justice that they needed more time to complete the process. Registration of Sim cards is required under the clumsily named Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act.
Most operators say they have made good progress in getting their customers to comply with the legislation, which is meant to help in the fight against crime.
Cell C says that more than 94% of its subscribers have already completed the process. Spokesman Sean van der Westhuizen says Cell C has invested “a significant amount already in marketing campaigns to encourage customers to register”.
“A number of initiatives have been planned and will be rolled out between now and the Rica deadline to remind customers to register their Sim cards and to educate customers on the importance of the legislation.”
As far as the financial implications of not registering all its customers are concerned, Van Der Westhuizen says they could be “huge” because Cell C “could miss out on the revenue it would have generated from subscribers if they were active”.
Vodacom spokesman Richard Boorman says that at the end of March, 85% of Vodacom’s 26,5m customers had completed the Rica process. Of the remaining 15%, contract customers who fail to meet the deadline will be cut off but will still be liable for their contract payments. They will be reconnected upon completing the process.
Vodacom prepaid customers, meanwhile, will be cut off and will have six months to meet the Rica requirements if they wish to continue using their number.
Boorman says Vodacom has used all means possible to encourage customers to comply with the Rica stipulations, including extensive print, television and radio advertising campaigns, various competitions and incentives, and the sending of reminder SMSes to all subscribers.
Despite having over 160 Rica agents across SA, Boorman says Vodacom is preparing for the inevitable last minute rush.
“We don’t envision a big impact,” Boorman says of the potential financial effects of the cut-off. “Far fewer subscribers than the 15% outstanding in March are expected to remain as such by the end of June and, of those that are, only prepaid subscribers will result in lost revenue. Even then, those that are, say, using prepaid Sim cards in 3G dongles and may have forgotten that they need to be registered, too, will soon realise it when the cards stop working.”
Zak van der Merwe, chief operating officer at Virgin Mobile, says that about 90% of the company’s customers have met the Rica requirements. He says the company is “proactively calling and SMSing non-Rica’d customers to advise them of the deadline and risk of being cut off”.
“The expectation is a spike in the number of Rica’d customers just before and just after deadline and then a small percentage of active customers unfortunately being cut off until they do comply.”
Meanwhile, MTN SA says that approximately 80% of the company’s subscribers have completed the Rica process. This is considerably lower than the figures offered by the other three operators.
Robert Madzonga, executive for corporate services at MTN SA, says MTN has launched various campaigns to increase customer awareness about the process. — Craig Wilson, TechCentral
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