HA NOI — The Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) is considering charging new mobile phone subscribers at least VND40,000 (US$2) to start using phone services, said department of telecommunications deputy director Nguyen Van Tru.
|A SIM card kiosk in Ha Noi. New mobile phone subscribers are required to register mobile phone SIM cards with their personal information at authorised agencies following the new draft of a circular on prices of mobile telecom services. — VNS Photo
"The fees include phone number registration as well as new subscriber identity module (SIM) cards, which will only be charged for once, in a move to end the current wave of unregistered SIM cards which are causing a shortage of phone numbers in Viet Nam," Tru said.
According to the new draft of a circular on prices of mobile telecom services, people are required to register mobile phone SIM cards with their personal information at authorised agencies.
Representatives of big mobile phone providers such as Mobifone, Vinaphone and Viettel all believed that the new plan would be most effective if sales of discounted SIM cards were limited.
Vinaphone sales manager Pham Ngoc Tu said the plan could not be as effective as expected if it did not restrict SIM cards with discounts.
"Normally, a new phone subscriber can buy a new SIM card with an additional 50 per cent value," added Tu, "so no one wants to buy pre-paid cards."
Do Duy Thanh, 21, a Ha Noi University student, said that the draft listing new fees would not be effective.
"Registered SIM cards can be easily found in any SIM shop due to the fact that SIM card sellers can use other people's identity cards for registration," said Thanh, "I would prefer to buy a new SIM card at the cost of VND50,000 ($2.4) with an additional 50 to 100 per cent value."
According to Nguyen Van Binh, sales manager of Mobifone branch of HCM City, the best way to stop the wave of unregistered SIM cards is to adjust all new SIM card balances to be VND0.
Nguyen Thu Trang, a SIM card seller in Ha Noi's Kim Ma Street, said the problem was that people could buy new SIM cards with a lot of credit at a cheap price.
"New SIM cards with free credit have motivated many people, especially young people, to use two phones," added Trang. "One is attached with a stable number while the other one is attached with a free credit SIM card.
"The problem can be solved if the draft restricts a person to using only one number," Trang suggested.
A circular had been put into force making it illegal to sell activated SIMs or to have more than three SIMs with each operator, said Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Le Nam Thang.
Subscribers have to use their new numbers within three months. If not, the registration will be cancelled.
Thang added that mobile operators must closely cooperate with the MIC to make the plan effective.
"If telecom operators keep running promotions, it will be hard to control virtual subscriptions," Thang said.
The plan is slated to take effect by the end of the year, after the MIC collects enough feedback from mobile service providers, enterprises and ordinary people. — VNS