Pakistan bans Mobile Number Portability permanently over security fears

Karachi, Nov. 15 (ANI): The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has directed telecom operators to permanently ban Mobile Number Portability (MNP) service with immediate effect for security reasons.

According to a source, the ban was imposed for security reasons, as MNP makes it difficult to trace the whereabouts of terrorists, reports The Express Tribune.

Earlier on Monday, the paper had reported that the PTA had received several instructions from the Interior Ministry about tackling unregistered SIMs, including an immediate ban on MNP facility, which allows the user to switch to a different service provider while retaining the same number.

A recent PTA notification also directed cellular mobile operators (CMOs) to retrieve the entire stock of SIMs from their sales channels - customer service centres, franchises and retailers. The regulator asked CMOs to permanently stop selling SIMs through these channels from December 1.

Among other directives, the notification also required the telecos to deliver new SIMs at the CNIC address of customers.

"We are clueless as to what threats MNP can pose to national security. The MNP service was initiated in March 2007 by the government itself to benefit consumers willing to switch to a better package while keeping the same mobile number," the source said.

The Interior Ministry has come down hard on telecos recently by imposing restrictions including suspension of mobile networks on special occasions to control law and order and stem the threat of terrorism.

There were three major cellular outages - Eidul Fitr, Eidul Azha and Yaum-e-Ishqe Rasool - recently and another one is apparently just round the corner at Ashura, according to another source.

"This decision, if implemented, will change the whole dynamics of the cellular industry, the way it is supporting the national economy, investment, jobs, liaison, vendors, marketing, etc.," the source said, commenting on the notification about closing the sales channels. (ANI)