Many Prepaid Cell Users To Miss ID Deadline

New Delhi: | Updated: Aug 30 2002, 05:30am hrs
Hundreds of thousands of mobile phone subscribers across the country who use pre-paid cards, are likely to face suspension of service within the next 48 hours for failing to comply with identity requirements recently mandated by the government.

The government has said that services of those pre-paid who do not furnish an ID should be suspended from September 1. The earlier deadline was July 31.

Many users are not even aware of the ID requirements. We have been sending them messages and calling them up to inform them, the chief executive officer of Hutch-Essar Delhi, Sudershan Banerjee, told eFE.

The company is in fact keeping its retail outlets open until late hours for the next two days to allow users to give in their ID details.

We are trying to ensure that the bona fide consumer is not inconvenienced, and the industry is not hurt, Mr Banerjee, who also co-chairs the business development committee at Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), said.

Many users are expected to come forward in the last two days.

That is the Indian tradition, says a cellular operator.

Some users are also expecting to see another extension of the deadline.

The COAI has in fact asked for the deadline to be extended to September 30, 2002. At this point, it seems unlikely to be acceded to.

There are some genuine problems in getting the ID ball rolling. There is a class of users of pre-paid cards who do not appreciate or understand the formalities of ID. Some cite the example of the plumber or the carpenter.

Of the eight million cellular subscriber base in the country, about 60 per cent or around 4.8 million use pre-paid cards.