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Dubai: UAE mobile subscribers can accquire as many phone numbers as they need but they should be responsible for these and bear all the consequences in case any of them was misused, Mohammad Al Ganem, Director General of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), told Gulf News.

TRA had launched the “My Number, My Identity” campaign in collaboration with the two licensees (etisalat and du) to increase awareness on the new registration procedures which are aimed to organise registration processes and requirements for mobile phone services, provided by the licensees.

“After 18 months from now and at the conclusion of the campaign, owners of the SIMs which were issued under their names will bear the consequences of any misuse that may occur by giving their SIM cards to family members or even friends,” Al Ganem said.

“The new registration procedures will be considered as tight measures to protect the users’ rights against fraud, bad debt as well as criminal cases.”

Al Ganem tells us more in a Q&A:

What is the main purpose of launching the “My Number, My Identity” campaign?

The increase in civil and criminal cases due to misuse of mobile numbers by giving away to their SIM cards to others has pushed TRA to tackle such procedures to help protect the mobile subscribers’ rights and prevent risks of misuse,

We have reported cases which result in legal and financial issues between family members — the actual owner and the actual user of the SIM cards.

Besides, the use of mobile phones has varied with the development witnessed in today’s world. Mobile phones are no longer limited to making calls or sending and receiving text messages; in fact, users can now log in to the internet, send e-mails, and utilise other available services, which could easily facilitate the misuse.

What type of procedures do you have in the new registration phases?

The new procedures were carefully tailored to include all aspects related to mobile phones registration such as registration requirements, information and documentation, verification, mobile subscribers’ registration (for individuals, visitors, companies and governmental entities), service activation, registration renewals; mobile subscribers subscription transfers, customer service, registration records, security and confidentiality, accuracy and compliance.

This will help attain the highest level of accuracy in registered information, and will provide flawless procedures and services to users across the UAE.

What is the maximum number of SIM cards allowed per subscriber in the UAE?

Mobile users can subscribe for unlimited number of SIM cards but they should use them responsibly. The mobile subscribers’ role is to protect their SIM cards to maintain their privacy; these should not be given to other users to avoid any misuse that may occur since the registered owner of the number will be legally and financially accountable.

If I register my SIM, will I have to cancel it when I am relocating from the UAE or if I’m no longer going to use it?

Of course the rightful subscribers or users will be able to cancel their mobile subscription if they are leaving the country or in case there is no use of this SIM any more. However, with the TRA new campaign a number of procedures are being introduced to facilitate the process of transferring the SIM cards from the actual owners to the actual users. This will help protect the actual owner of the number from any problems that may occur because of misusing these numbers besides allowing the actual user to benefit from the wide range of services provided to facilitate connectivity through mobile phones.

I have a SIM card from 1995. Do old SIM cards have an expiry date?

The SIM card has no expiry date unless there is a need to upgrade the SIM card. It is lifetime SIM card. However, this is in the control of the service providers whenever there is a requirement to upgrade the SIM or the services related to it.

Can my family members use a SIM registered under my name?

Mobile subscribers can give away their SIM cards to their family member or to any one but should keep in mind that they should be responsible enough to protect themselves from any problems that may occur because of misusing these numbers

Will both post-paid and pre-paid SIM cards need to be registered?

All mobile subscribe across the UAE will be given 18 months for the new registration. This will maintain their subscription and safeguard their rights and privacy. Although the 18 months were mentioned in the TRA but it was coupled with the information that the campaign will have six stages. The stages’ details are left to the service providers as they are entrusted to inform their customers and make the necessary provisions for the re-registration or the new registrations as such. The entire campaign will last for 18 months.

What happens if I don’t register by the deadline?

The mobile subscription would be disconnected and won’t be activiated until the actual owner of the SIM card submits the necessary documents to complete registration. Anyway, the number will be under the service providers’ decision.

Do I have to pay for reregistering my existing SIM card?

The new re-registering will be free to all subscribers.

I bought a new phone and got a free SIM card. Will the phone company register it for me or do I need to do it?

All SIM cards will be registered and users are requested to provide personal documents, passport and National ID, to complete the registration.