Instant activation of your mobile phone would soon be a possibility if you have an Aadhaar number. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked the telecom ministry to work with the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) on making this a reality as “soon as possible”.
The objective of the Aadhaar linked activation of mobile phones is twin --- to check identity theft to get a sim card and track the number of sims a person has --- apart from providing better service to consumers.
As of now, activation of a mobile connection can take up to a day and other services about six hours. And the telecom consumer service rules provide that a person cannot have more than nine sim cards.
According to government sources, there are high number of cases of use of someone else’s identity papers been used to provide a sim card to an unauthorised person. As a result, the service providers cannot track the number of sim cards a person seeking a new connection has.
The telecom service providers have expressed their inability to verify credentials of each sim card buyer prompting the government to look at Aadhaar as an option to prevent identity theft.
The officials said the telecom companies were willing to install biometric readers with their vendors to provide online authentication of a person having an Aadhaar number. The UIDAI has developed authentication software that confirms a person’s identity on basis of his or her biometric details in less than a minute.
“The software will tell the vendor whether the person seeking mobile services has presented his correct identity. The confirmation and the Aadhaar number obtained through biometric authentication can be used by the service provider for instant activation of the mobile services,” a government official said.
The government sources said the issue was discussed at the September 6 meeting with PM Modi and he asked the Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to work on it. The government sources said the UIDAI and the telecom ministry have worked on the suggestion and the instruction in this regard is expected soon.
The UIDAI has already generated 680 million Aadhaar numbers and has over 90% coverage in major cities like Delhi, which have a very high mobile usage. The officials said the initiative will give a push for Aadhaar enrollment in rural areas which had been lagging as compared to urban India.