BTRC to deactivate over 3 million SIM Cards, lessons for Ghana

Sim Cards
Sim Cards

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) will by November 30 deactivate some 3.13 million SIM card registered with one national identity card that has over 15 SIM card registered under it.

Per Bangladeshi regulation, each ID card is allowed to register a maximum up to 15 SIM cards, but the regulator found that there are some 7.24 million ID cards, which have registered more than 15 SIM cards.

Step to deactivation

To deactivate more than 3 million SIMs, the BTRC will take a number of steps.

The BTRC’s central biometrics verification monitoring platform (CBVMP) will first list the SIMs, and the list will be sent to the operators concerned.

The operators will contact the SIM owners and request them to bring down the number of SIMs to 15.

The operators will be asked to send SMS to the clients to do so.

Both the BTRC and the operators will also publish notices on websites and news media to inform the public.

The process will continue until October 15.

If the SIM users do not deactivate the SIMs by this time, the CBVMP and the operators will list 15 SIMs – based on revenue of the last six months and MFS accounts by October 31.

Then the list of additional SIMs will be sent to the operators for deregistration by November 30.

In June 2016, the BTRC decided to allow each consumer to use a maximum 20 SIM cards.

In October 2017, the commission revised its decision and set the number at 15.

The BTRC has several times urged the consumers, who have more than 15 SIM cards, to deactivate their extra contact numbers from the respective customer care centres by themselves.

An official said it was not possible for the BTRC to deactivate the SIMs, as it did not have combined data of the users, including their NID, voter ID, vehicle registration number, and passport number.

However, people who have corporate permission to buy SIMs will be out of purview of this deactivation, he added.

The users can find out the number of SIM cards they have against their passport, NID, driving licence or birth certificate in two ways — by dialing *16001# and sending the last four digits of NID number when asked through USSD code, or by sending an SMS to 16001 typing the last four digits of NID number.


The Bangleshi example has a lot of lessons for Ghana’s National Communications Authority (NCA). They go through painstaking data-driven and consultative process before finally deactivating any SIM cards. They don’t use emotions and pedestrian threats.

Secondly, the process obviously begins with the regulator collating the list of SIMs to deactivated. It is not the duty of telcos to collate that list. So, the regulator cannot and will not for any reason blame telcos for wrongly deactivating any SIM cards.

Lastly, the public will be informed and reinformed every step of the way, so they are involved in the entire process before any SIM will be deactivated.

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