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MANILA, Philippines – Cellphones buzzed with the familiar emergency alert in some areas in the country, not because there was an impending storm or an earthquake, but due to the low registration of SIM cards.
While this irritated some users, telco giant Globe defended its use of the emergency cell broadcast system (ECB), noting that the alert blast was “within acceptable parameters.”
Globe said it did so to “instill urgency” on millions of customers who have yet to register their SIMs, as the government is not keen on extending the April 26, Wednesday deadline.
Section 4 of the Free Mobile Disaster Act specifies that alerts are sent out in the event of an impending tropical storm, typhoon, tsunami, or other calamities.
“Globe utilized the ECB as a component of network management and implemented the emergency blast within acceptable parameters. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council has given no objections on the use of ECB after prior notice,” Globe said.
“We apologize to our registered customers who have received the emergency alerts and expressed their irritation online. These messages were really intended for those who have not registered. We appeal for their understanding as these messages are geographically targeted for all. Globe sees the low registration numbers as needing urgent public service because the lack of mobile services is in itself an emergency, severely impacting daily life, from financial transactions and e-commerce to transport and education, among many others,” said Globe Group corporate communications officer Yoly Crisanto.
As of April 22, Globe has logged only over 35.8 million SIM card registrations out of its 86.7 million customer base.
Prior to the emergency alerts, Globe said registrations had been slow at roughly 200,000 per day in March.
“Globe started using ECB to call on customers who have not registered due to the tepid daily registration numbers. The impact of ECBs have been tremendous as daily registrations increased to 400,000 then 800,000 last week. Over the weekend, the daily registrations hit over 1 million,” Globe said.
Smart has registered over 38.2 million, while Dito has 5.6 million. In total, all three telcos have registered only over 78 million or around 45% of all SIMs. All unregistered SIMs will be deactivated.
The companies have called for an extension. The law allows an extension of up to 120 days.
Telcos want an extension to give subscribers more time to secure the government IDs required to register their SIMs. Companies also called on government to consider allowing alternative forms of identification, such as company IDs, school IDs, and barangay certificates, for those who do not have valid government-issued IDs.
“We are at a critical time as the deadline draws near, and we want to ensure that our customers are compliant with the law to avoid SIM deactivation. This way, they will continue to enjoy our call, text and data services for their day-to-day needs,” said Globe Group president and chief executive officer Ernest Cu. – Rappler.com