Some 7.23 lakh customers in the country have subscribed to more than 15 SIMs of different mobile network operators against a single national identification (NID) card, found the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC).
The total number of SIMs subscribed by these customers is around two crore, the BTRC found after mapping the NID database of the election commission with its biometric verification monitoring platform (CBVMP) data.
At present, the total number of the country's mobile SIM subscribers is 18.4 crore under four mobile network operators.
The regulatory commission is now scrutinising the data to deactivate additional SIMs beyond the permissible limit of 15 against each NID from 30 November, said Md Nurul Hafiz, secretary of the BTRC.
"However, if any subscriber applies against their deactivated SIMs, BTRC will consider that based on proper documents," he said.
As per BTRC sources, many criminal activities including cybercrime and financial fraud, are being committed using the different SIMs.
On 4 December of 2017, the BTRC issued a notice allowing a customer to subscribe a maximum of 15 SIMs against each of the documents including NID, birth certificate, driving licences and passport.
However, the BTRC found that customers were subscribing as many as 75 SIMs by using these documents.
Later on 16 March 2021, BTRC issued another directive limiting the number of SIMs to only two against the birth certificate, driving license and passport.
However, the regulatory commission found that still users were subscribing as many as 36 SIMs using their 17-digit and 10-digit NID cards and other IDs.
On 21 April 2022, BTRC started mapping the data of 17-digit and 10-digit NIDs and completed the first phase of the programme where it found 7.23 lakh NIDs have around 1.99 crore SIMs.
Because of the huge number of SIMs subscribed against a single NID, the BTRC and law enforcement agencies often face difficulties in identifying the criminals.
For this, in its 265th board meeting, BTRC decided to deactivate the additional SIMs beyond the permissible limit of 15 against each NID from 30 November.