Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - SIM card registration drive stalling

SIM card registration drive stalling

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A person sorts out SIM cards at a phone shop in central Phnom Penh yesterday. Pha Lina

SIM card registration drive stalling

One month after the government announced a crackdown on unregistered mobile phone lines, retailers are still selling SIM cards without the required identification documents, and the major telecom companies have done little to curtail the practice.

“I heard about the stricter regulations, but I’m still selling SIM cards without collecting ID because the telecom companies have not informed me of any policy changes yet,” said Prak Sophea, a sales clerk at TTN Phone Shop, who was offering unregistered SIM cards yesterday of the three leading mobile companies for $2 each.

In a joint press conference on September 22, officials from the National Police and the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications warned that they would begin enforcing a 2012 directive that requires retailers to collect identification documents before selling mobile phone SIM cards to customers.

National Police deputy chief Chhay Sinarith said the crackdown aimed at curtailing criminal and terrorist activities, estimating that nearly 70 per cent of the Kingdom’s 20 million SIM cards had no identity attached to them.

He said retailers caught selling unregistered SIM cards would be shut down or arrested, and ordered telecom firms to ensure that their existing subscribers registered their ID documents within three months, or terminate their numbers.

While the telecom businesses vowed to cooperate with the directive and reign in their distributors, many SIM card retailers say it is business as usual.

Buth Sothear, an employee at Sothoeun Mobile Services Center in Phnom Penh, said she continues to sell SIM cards without the required paperwork, and continues to receive fresh stock of SIMs from Smart, Metfone and Cellcard.

Sothear said it was unfair to blame retailers as the telecom companies control the activation of services, and if they really wanted to prevent customers from using unregistered SIMs they would require the customer’s ID to be on file before activating the number.

“The telecom companies are blaming the SIM card retailers [for selling unregistered SIMs] but we can only do this because the SIMs they provide us are working numbers,” she said.

“In addition, these companies are giving out free SIM cards to customers without requiring ID registration.”

Mobile operator Smart continues to offer free SIM cards to passengers on flights bound for Cambodia, while Metfone advertises free SIMs to arriving passengers at the country’s international airports. A Smart representative said the company’s free SIMs must be registered within three days of first use or the line will be automatically disconnected.

Existing mobile subscribers of the two networks say they have not received any notification from the mobile companies requiring them to submit their ID documents, and expressed doubt that it would ever be enforced.

Som Sineth, a Smart subscriber, said she has used her unregistered SIM for nearly four years and had never received a request for identity information.

“I don’t care if they block or delete my number,” she said. “If they do, I’ll just buy another SIM. They’re so cheap anyway.”

Ly Meng Tour, a 23-year-old mobile phone vendor, said he bought his Metfone SIM about a year ago for $1 and had not registered it – nor was he planning to.

“I had an ID card at the time, but the SIM card vendor didn’t ask for it,” he said. “I don’t really care.”

Im Vutha, director of regulation and dispute at the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, said the ministry notified all of the telecom operators of their responsibility to collect the identity information of their subscribers.

“We did not hear anything back from the telecom operators,” he said. “But we don’t want to bother them and we’re giving them time to work with their customers. We will take action after the [three-month] deadline.”

He said the mobile operators have known of the requirement to collect documents at the point-of-sale since 2012, but have largely ignored it because they have been locked in heated competition for subscribers.

Smart and Cellcard did not respond to interview requests yesterday. Metfone could not be reached for comment.

MOST VIEWED

  • Second Hungary business forum set for H2

    Cambodia has asked Hungary to provide GSP- (Generalised System of Preferences) Plus facilities for when the Kingdom sheds its least-developed country (LDC) label, as the two countries prepare to hold a second business forum in the second half (H2) of this year to expand trade

  • Thai boxers to join SEA Games’ Kun Khmer event

    The Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC) – together with the Kun Khmer International Federation (KKIF) and Khmer Boxing Federation – have achieved a “great success” by including Kun Khmer in the upcoming biennial multi-sports event on its home soil for the first time, said a senior

  • Bullets to bracelets: Siem Reap man makes waste from war wearable

    Jewellery is often made from valuable gemstones like emeralds or diamonds and precious metals like gold or silver, or valueless things like animal horns. But a man in Siem Reap has approached the manufacture of delicate pieces from a different angle. His unique form of

  • Nearly 50 states join Kun Khmer Federation, all set for training

    In a little over a week, the Kun Khmer International Federation (KKIF) has accepted membership requests from 20 new nations, in addition to the exiting 29. The sudden influx of international recognition stems from the Kingdom’s successful introduction of Kun Khmer to the 32nd Souheast Asian (

  • 61% of 2022 imports came from just 3 markets

    The three largest exporters to Cambodia – mainland China, Vietnam and Thailand – accounted for 60.94 per cent of the Kingdom’s total merchandise imports last year, at $18.245 billion, which was up 11.99 per cent over 2021, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise. Cambodia’s total imports

  • CPP sets out five primary strategic goals for 2023-28

    The Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) on January 29 concluded its two-day extraordinary congress, setting the party’s priority goals for 2023-2028. The ruling party’s congress was attended by more than 3,000 members from across the Kingdom, including the members of the permanent and central committees,