By Usanee Mongkolporn
Mobile-phone operators say they will demand that new prepaid customers register their SIM cards with their shops, in line with the telecom regulator's launch yesterday of an app-based registration method.
The registration service was already available yesterday at some shops in Bangkok, for existing as well as new subscribers. It is to be available in shops in major cities by July 15 and nationwide by the end of next month, said National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) secretary-general Takorn Tantasith.
The NBTC introduced its “two-shots” app to telecom operators yesterday. As part of the registration process, the operators’ staff selling the SIM card will download this application on to their own mobile phones. They will use the app to take a picture of the SIM card code and the buyer’s ID card.
Then the app will immediately send these data to the NBTC’s computer server, which is connected with the servers of the five telecom operators. The NBTC server will verify the identity-card information, and if correct, will send the verified data back to the telecom operator’s server, which will activate the SIM card.
The data will not be stored in the mobile phones of shop staff, so the buyers need not worry about security. Expatriates who don’t have Thai ID can use their passports.
Advanced Info Service’s vice president for product marketing, Anake Anantwatanapong, said AIS would not sell prepaid SIM cards to potential customers if they decline to register the cards with the shops.
The NBTC imposed regulations requiring the operators to register information of the buyers of new prepaid SIM cards years ago but few consumers cooperated, reluctant to provide copies of their ID cards. The telecom firms have faced daily fines for failing to register their prepaid users.
The commission believes that this app-based method will make registering much more convenient for consumers. Takorn said the new method was aimed at preventing the use of mobile phones in any way that could cause damage to the country or for illegal purposes.
Of the total of about 100 million mobile-phone numbers currently in use in Thailand, 90 per cent are prepaid. However, only around 10 per cent of the prepaid users are registered with the operators.