Amid on-going proceedings in an effort to make Aadhaar a mandatory requisite for almost everything, the scope of this document has now been extended into the telecom space as well. According to a new mandate from the Department of Telecommunications(DoT), Aadhaar will now be a mandatory document to procure new SIM cards, and also to re-verify all existing subscribers.
The DoT wants this procedure, which is a part of a Supreme Court directive, to be set in place and completed within a year, and has sent out notices to telecom operators regarding the implementation of Aadhaar for all e-KYC procedures.
What does it mean for the telcos?
Apart from making Aadhaar a mandatory document to issue new SIM cards, the telecom operators will also have to inform all the existing subscribers about the re-verification process. The directive covers both prepaid and post-paid connections.
The cellular telephone service licensees, which includes everyone from Airtel to Idea to Vodafone (Reliance Jio has already makes use of Aadhaar details for its e-KYC process), will have to post ads on all possible platforms to let the users know about this procedure. Moreover, they will have to send the users SMSs about this directive and ask the subscribers to keep the Aadhaar details ready.
The telecom operators have been given a year to complete the process, more specifically, until February 6, 2018. Within this time frame, the companies will have to advertise, reach out to users, mobilise a task force and train them, and get over a billion mobile phone subscribers users re-verified. Our sources in the industry tell us that it’s going to be a very tedious and expensive task.
What does it mean for the users?
The biggest challenge to get all the users reverified is bound to be a time crunch. However, the directive from DoT has advised the companies to ensure that public convenience is paramount at all times, and that the users must not stand in long lines to get their Aadhaar verification done.
The users will have to get their re-verifications done through receiving ‘verification codes’ or one-time codes from the service operators, and the operators have been directed to verify if the SIM card is “physically available” with the said subscriber.
People will multiple SIM cards can get e-KYC using the same Aadhaar details too, although separate verification codes will be sent to each number separately. It’s not clear how this process will be executed, and what would the full impact be on the user. There’s no word on how it’s going to affect those porting their numbers, or using their numbers in circles which are different from the place where they procured the SIM card from.
However, the cellular operators association, COAI, will meet soon to discuss this move and how to go about with the implementation.