Kenya's mobile firms switch off over 1.28 mln SIM cards

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Kenya's telecommunications regulator said on Friday four mobile phone service providers have switched off more than 1.28 million unregistered SIM cards since the deadline of the registration exercise.

According to the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK), the four local mobile networks had by Friday switched off 1,280,840 unregistered lines, five days after the expiry of the Dec. 31, 2012 deadline.

CCK Director General Francis Wangusi who released the statistics in Nairobi said the disconnection of unregistered Simcard was progressing well despite the initial hitches.

"The verification exercise is quite involving as the mobile operators have to ensure that no registered mobile line is suspended from service," Wangusi said.

He attributed delays in disconnection of the more than 6 million unregistered SIM cards to verification of registration data received from mobile line dealers and agents countrywide.

According to Wangusi, Safaricom leads the pack with 800,000 unregistered SIM cards already off-air. Yu and Orange have suspended 290,000 and 120,010 unregistered lines from service, respectively.

Wangusi said Airtel on the other hand has switched off 70,830 unregistered SIM cards. He said the overriding aim of the registration exercise is to achieve total compliance.

He made an appeal to those who have not registered their lines to do so within the 90-day period before their SIM cards are permanently de-activated.

The industry regulator said Airtel had registered 3.88 million subscribers, Orange 2.11 million and Safaricom 17.2 million while Yu had 24,785 customers as at Friday.

According to Wangusi 24.78 million had registered as at Dec. 28, 2012 while 751,504 new customers registered during the period.

This is the CCK's second attempt to block unregistered SIM cards after a 2010 attempt was derailed by a lack of laws to support the process. The regulator had authorized mobile operators to switch off nearly 1.5 million fake phones.

The liberalization of the mobile telecoms market has witnessed massive uptake of mobile telecommunications services in the East African country.

To date, Kenya has more than 30 million mobile subscribers, and close to 15 million regular Internet users. Endi

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