Papua New Guinea's National Information and Communications Technology Authority (NICTA) is commencing with the deactivation of unregistered SIM cards, after expressing disappointment with the progress with the nation's compulsory SIM registration scheme.
The ministry and operators Telikom PNG, Bmobile-Vodafone and Digicel PNG have been engaged in a two year campaign to register SIMs in a bid to improve law enforcement and national security capabilities for the nation's authorities.
But despite a recent extension to the registration deadline, around 40% of the 2.8 million SIMs in circulation in the country are still not registered, the Post-Courier reported.
As of Friday, Digicel and Telikom PNG had only registered 54% of their mobile customers, while bmobile-Vodafone had registered 75%.
While operators have accrued substantial expenses implementing the scheme and improving public awareness of the need to register SIMs, consumers are not coming forward.
As a result, the government plans to proceed with the deactivation of unregistered subscribers in main urban centers.
But the deadline for registration for users in district capitals has been extended again to December 31, and the deadline for rural areas has been extended to April next year, the National reported.
Subscribers with deactivated SIMs will have 30 days to register, for a fee, before the SIMs are permanently disabled.
The government also plans to start sending enforcement notices to SIM card sellers from next month informing them that they must only sell SIMs at locations where they can be registered.
Meanwhile NICTA is defending against a lawsuit attempting to stop the deactivation of unregistered SIMs. The regulator's motion to have the lawsuit dismissed has now been adjourned for hearing on September 7, according toLoop PNG.