Thousands of mobile phone users were unable to register their SIM cards on the first day of mandatory registration as technical glitches—and the sheer number of users—bogged down online portals set up by telecommunications companies to accept their information.
Globe, with about 87 million subscribers, launched its SIM registration portal early on Dec. 27, in compliance with the law but had to take the site offline just a few hours after going live.
Globe said several customers were able access the site and register between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m., but the portal was then taken offline for “optimizing.”
As early as 6:30 a.m., the registration link for Globe showed a “bad gateway” error and asked subscribers to “try again later.” Users trying to access the site at 10:30 a.m. were taken to an FAQ page.
“Globe is committed to make SIM registration easy and convenient for its 87.9 million customers. However, it is very unfortunate that we discovered potential minor vulnerabilities in our microsite that require careful patching in order to prevent any serious threat to customer data,” Globe said in a statement Tuesday evening.
“These issues prompted Globe to take proactive measures to make the site temporarily inaccessible as customer data security is paramount and any problem detected is treated with utmost severity. In light of this development, Globe has requested the NTC for a maximum of 72 hours from today to observe our SIM registration portal to ensure all patches made are technically stable.”
Prior to this, at least 20,000 Globe users were able to register.
“Globe takes full responsibility for the actions it has taken and is prepared to accept any regulatory penalty if merited, in order to prioritize the protection of its customers’ data,” Globe said.
In an advisory, Smart Communications Inc., with about 68 million subscribers, also said that due to the high volume registrants, some subscribers may experience difficulty accessing the SIM registration site.
“Our technical team is working on increasing capacity,” Smart said.
Smart said its prepaid subscribers will get 3GB of data upon completing the registration of their SIM cards.
It was unclear if DITO Telecommunity Corp., which has only about 15 million subscribers, experienced any problems on its portal. The company said its subscribers who successfully register their SIM cards will receive 2GB bonus data.
The online registration will be free of charge and will require customers to provide their personal information (full name, date of birth, sex, present/official address) and a government-issued identification card. Minors are expected to register under their parent or legal guardian’s name along with any government-issued ID of the parent or guardian, and the consent of the minor’s parent or guardian to register the SIM. Multiple SIM cards can be registered under one name.
Businesses that will register a SIM card must submit additional requirements.
Subscribers of all telecom companies have until April 26, 2023 to register their SIM cards.
Before Tuesday’s start of the registration process, all the telecommunications companies said they were confident that their systems could handle the volume of users.
“We are ready for it. The system we’re using is robust,” said Crisanto.
Just a few hours after the site went live, however, Crisanto said the portal was taken down to adjust to a new requirement – the uploading of selfies.
Cathy Yang, PLDT and Smart Corporate Communications first vice president and group head, also said their systems were ready for the influx of registrants.
“All systems go for the SIM registration. It will only take three minutes to register,” she said in a radio interview.
But in an advisory posted on its Facebook page later, Smart acknowledged that subscribers could have difficulty accessing the registration site because of the high volume of registrants.
The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said it is launching a 24/7 complaint center where the public can report issues related to the SIM registration.
DICT Spokesperson and Undersecretary Anna Mae Y. Lamentillo said that the first two weeks of the implementation of the SIM registration is considered as a test period, during which some glitches or technical issues are expected as the public telecommunications entities (PTE) fine tune their respective processes.
She said the 24/7 complaint center will serve as a support system for the implementation of the SIM registration as this will provide a platform where SIM subscribers can report their concerns or provide suggestions on how the process can be improved.
Under the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act 11934 also known as An Act Requiring the Registration of SIM Cards, mobile phone subscribers with prepaid SIM cards must register and verify their phone numbers with their respective public telecommunications companies 180 days from Dec. 27, 2022.
After the extension period of 120 days, unregistered SIM cards will be deactivated.
For postpaid subscribers, data submitted to the service providers will only need to be verified.
SIM cards of foreign nationals visiting as tourists will only be valid for 30 days. It may be extended upon submission of an approved visa extension.
To register, subscribers should visit the portal of their telecommunications provider.
For Globe Mobile, TM and Home Prepaid WiFi users, register through https://new.globe.com.ph/simreg.
For Smart prepaid, TNT and Smart Bro users, register through https://smart.com.ph/simreg.
For existing DITO Subscribers, register through https://dito.ph/RegisterDITO.
The full name, date of birth, gender, and address of the end-user appearing in a valid government-issued identification document with photo will be required during registration.
Authorities said any information obtained in the SIM registration will be treated with absolute confidentiality except in compliance with any law or court order authorizing the disclosure of personal information upon finding of probable cause.
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said Filipinos should not be afraid of the SIM Registration Act as the law “will not be used for state surveillance, red tagging or any other nefarious purpose.”
“The collection of data by the telcos (telecommunications companies) will be under stringent regulatory oversight and monitoring of concerned government agencies so the public can be assured that their data and information will be safeguarded,” Remulla said.
Remulla issued the statement as the government began carrying out the SIM Registration Act.
He also said the government would monitor the telecommunications companies to ensure they complied with the rules on privacy and data security.
Remulla warned the public not to sell or transfer their registered SIMs, use false or fictitious information or use fictitious identities or present fraudulent IDs to register their SIMs as doing so would be punishable under the law.
Also on Tuesday, the Department of the Interior and Local Government urged the public to register their SIM cards. With Joel E. Zurbano