One of the better things about taking a new mobile connection in India (apart from cheap tariffs) is relative the ease with which you can get started. Just hop on to the nearest shop, ask for a new mobile connection (now-a-days every 2nd shop sells sim cards), just sign the form, handover the photo-copy of your ID / address proof and you are done. You can start making calls in next few hours.
Currently, subscriber verification happens parallely – i.e: The sim card gets activated immediately (in few hours) and the new user verification process happens simultaneously. If any discrepancies are found in the application or in their Identity / Address proof, the new connection gets deactivated. The obvious advantage for consumer is that he does not have to wait for days together before starting to use the new connection
However, things may not be that simple anymore. Indian Security agencies have proposed new guidelines to be followed by Telecom Operators for new customer acquisition. The new guidelines propose that customer verification has to happen fully before the sim card is activated. These were formulated keeping in mind the national security concerns, where anti-social elements may take advantage of this process. If the guidelines get implemented, new connections may take as much as 6-7 days to get activated. Not only that, it will be put tremendous strain on already burdened Telecom Operators.
According to ToI, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India told Supreme court yesterday that these new guidelines need to be simplified without diluting the national security concerns expressed by security agencies. The new guidelines, if implemented as is, are sure to affect the growth of mobile subscribers in India
In my personal opinion, National security is of utmost importance, and that for sure cannot be compromised even if it means more time for activation. Having said that, I am sure there might be a simpler way which can be implemented ensuring that both the objectives are met.
User Verification is a perpetual problem in India, thanks to lack of central unique identification database. Once Aadhaar reaches the critical mass, it has power to simplify every kind of user verification process. Till then Indians will have to follow the tedious processed of verification.
One more "Q" for us Indians!