AFTER the grace period for the registration of Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards passed, the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) reported that 113,969,014 million SIMs had been registered as of Sunday, July 30, 2023.
This accounts for only 67.83 percent of the combined 168,016,400 subscribers of the three telecommunication providers in the country as of December 2022.
More than 54 million unregistered SIM cards, however, have been deactivated and lost access to mobile services such as text messaging, voice calls and data surfing, as both the July 25, 2023 deadline as well as the five-day grace period for reactivation after the deadline have passed.
Some unregistered SIM users were unfazed about their SIM deactivation, however.
As of July 30, Smart Communications had over 52,500,870 million registered SIM cards or 79.18 percent of its 66,304,761 million subscribers.
Globe Telecom registered more than 53,727,798 million SIM cards or 61.94 percent of its 86,746,672 million subscribers.
Dito Telecommunity had around 7,740,346 million SIM cards registered or 51.72 percent of 14,964,967 million subscribers.
The first SIM registration deadline was set on April 26, 2023, until President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. extended it to July 25, 2023, and users were even given a five-day grace period or until July 30, 2023, to register their SIM cards.
Registration was stipulated under the SIM Registration Law or Republic Act 11934 signed by Marcos on October 10, 2022 to curb cybercriminal activities such as “smishing” (sending text messages purported to be from legitimate sources to trick receivers into sharing personal information like passwords) or other text scams.
Deactivated SIM cards will be considered “dead” SIMs. Users would have to purchase and register new SIM cards to access mobile services.
They will lose access to their electronic wallets, and their mobile prepaid load and promos will be forfeited.
However, the funds inside the e-wallets will remain intact. But users must present proof of ownership to their telco provider in order for the money to be transferred to a new mobile number.
Dead but ‘unbothered’
Even if the NTC said that after July 30, unregistered SIMs would be permanently deactivated and subscribers could no longer avail themselves of mobile services, some individuals in Cebu Monday still did not care about the ramifications of having a dead SIM.
This is because some Cebuanos no longer use voice calls, text messaging and data surfing. Instead, they use Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi).
Three individuals claimed that even after several extensions, they were not enthusiastic about registering their SIM since most of their negotiations did not require their SIM number.
“Okay ra man nako kay karon naggamit man gud mi ug Wi-Fi. Maong dili kaayo nako gi-big deal,” said Maria Akihira M. Sellona, a Globe user who said Monday that her SIM had been officially deactivated and she had stopped receiving messages.
(It’s okay to have a dead SIM because what we are using is Wi-Fi. That’s why registering is not such a big deal for me.)
Since her Globe SIM is now “SIM dead,” Sellona is now depending on public Wi-Fi. Sellona answered via phone call.
However, Sellona acknowledged that she might face difficulties when she needs to perform any virtual transaction or online payment in the future.
Diether Saromines, a fast food worker and Smart user, said he still actively received messages from his unregistered SIM.
Saromines told SunStar Cebu that he was not interested in registering his SIM because he found it time consuming.
“Naggamit gihapon ko sa akong GCash using Smart SIM, pero goods pa man kaayo. Maggamit ra jud siya. Usa pa sad, hasolan kaayo ko anang registering gud kay daghan hasol,” he confessed.
(I’m still using my GCash e-wallet using a Smart SIM, but all is still very good. I can still use it. I really find SIM registration a hassle.)
Additionally, a local retail store owner who requested not to be named, said that maybe for now, it won’t be an issue for her to work on since her banking apps need to be updated with a new phone number anyway because they are not linked to any of her numbers.
The Smart user said she planned to update her information through her daughter’s phone number since her daughter is more tech-savvy, so that she will no longer have to study how to do it. |
Globe Telecom vice president for external affairs Patrick Gloria said while it is true that smartphones can still access apps using public Wi-Fi after one’s SIM has been deactivated, one can access only those apps that are not connected to one’s mobile number.
Marylou Gocotano, Visayas relations head of PLDT and Smart Communications, for her part, said it was “unlikely” for someone with a deactivated SIM to still be able to receive messages, since both incoming and outgoing messages and calls are no longer possible when the SIM is dead.
She said if the subscriber was postpaid, however, there was no need for registration because postpaid subscribers are autoregistered. (WITH CLAUDINE FLORES AND HAZEL FAITH SAYMO, CNU INTERNS)