By Raymond Carl Dela Cruz

EXTENSION. Smart Communications personnel assist subscribers to have their SIM cards registered in this undated photo. The telecommunications companies on Wednesday (April 12, 2023) asked the government to extend the April 26 deadline for SIM registration. (Photo courtesy of NTC Region 6)

MANILA – The telecommunications companies (telcos) have asked the government to extend the deadline for the subscriber identity module (SIM) registration as many mobile users are yet to register despite the April 26 deadline.

In a statement on Wednesday, Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) and TNT announced their intention to file a formal letter of request to the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to extend the deadline.

“We are filing this request to help give ample time to all mobile users, particularly the marginalized sectors and those located in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas of the country, to register their SIMs,” PLDT-Smart first vice president Cathy Yang said.

Yang said about 46 percent of active Smart and TNT mobile users have already registered their SIMs.

To help register those with no access to the internet, she said SIM registration booths have been set up in remote areas nationwide in collaboration with the DICT, NTC and other government agencies.

“These booths offer information and guidance on how to register Smart or TNT SIMs using acceptable ID cards, as well as provide physical assistance to senior citizens, persons with disabilities, and those using non-data phones,” she said.

On the other hand, Globe Telecom Inc. (Globe) joined the call for an extension as less than half of its active users have registered their SIM cards.

Globe noted that many mobile users have failed to register their SIMs due to having no government identification (ID) and a lack of digital literacy.

“Given these issues, we appeal to the government to extend the SIM registration process to give our customers more time to get their required government IDs and input the required information on our site,” it said.

To help increase the number of registrations, it asked government authorities to consider allowing alternative IDs such as company IDs, school IDs and barangay certificates for those with no valid government-issued ID.

Another option, it said, is to allow “conditional registration” or allow users to keep using their SIM card while they work on obtaining a valid ID.

It also called for the creation of “always-on” government-assisted registration centers complemented by ID issuance services.

“Globe is working closely with the National Telecommunications Commission, relevant government agencies, and other stakeholders in ensuring that we register as many subscribers as possible before the April 26 deadline,” it said.

The Republic Act (RA) 11934 or the SIM Registration Act regulates the use of SIM cards to help curb the proliferation of text scams and other mobile phone-aided criminal activities.

According to the law, all SIM users have until April 26, 2023, to register their SIMs under their name, or risk deactivation of their SIM. (PNA)