Mobitel’s all-encompassing registration system: a success story
(L-R): Wijesiri Ambawatta, Director, SLT Mobitel, Muttiah Muralidaran, Brand Ambassador, SLT Mobitel, Priyantha Kariyapperuma, Director-General, Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka, Leisha De Silva Chandrasena, Chairperson, Sri Lanka Telecom / SLT Mobitel, Mahela Jayawardene, Brand Ambassador, SLT Mobitel, S N Kumar, Director, Sri Lanka Telecom / SLT Mobitel and Suren J Amarasekera, CEO, SLT Mobitel
A token of appreciation being handed over to Mahela Jayawardene, Brand Ambassador, SLT Mo-bitel by Leisha De Silva Chandrasena, Chairperson, Sri Lanka Telecom / SLT Mobitel. Also pictured (L-R): Wijesiri Ambawatta, Director, SLT Mobitel, Muttiah Muralidaran, Brand Ambassador, SLT Mo-bitel, S N Kumar, Director, Sri Lanka Telecom / SLT Mobitel and Suren J Amarasekera, CEO, SLT Mobitel
Mobitel launched its all-encompassing subscriber registration system in response to the directive issued by the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL), instructing all telecom operators to register their subscribers. This was primarily aimed at ending the indiscriminate use of mobile phones, which by now is deemed to have become a national security threat. Once implemented, a mobile phone must only be in the possession of its registered owner, who must be able to prove ownership whenever called upon to do so.
For Mobitel, the directive came at a time the company was trying to cope with the registration of around 130,000 new subscribers a month, and a host of technical and logistical problems arising out of the unprecedented popularity of its packages. However, Mobitel made a firm decision to comply fully with the directive, which meant issuing an ownership document, called Mobitel Identity Certificate (MIC) that a user can carry along, in addition to the Mobitel Digital Certificate (MDC) that the user can invoke on his or her mobile phone to get ownership details on the screen.
The logistics of registering a two million strong customer base within a short period were imposing. To avoid inconvenience to subscribers, registration facilities were provided at 65 Mobitel centres lo-cated islandwide. The TRCSL directive required the operator to include a recent subscriber's photo-graph, if the photograph shown in the National Identity Card (NIC) does not match his or her present facial appearance. Mobitel came up with a solution: the subscribers were given the option of either posing for a photograph at the centre free of charge, or bringing their own. To transfer the photographs - taken at the centre or scanned from conventional film based photographs brought in - the company came up with an MMS based innovative solution which will make the best use of its fully-fledged 3G /2.5G GSM network.
Thus, the photographs will be transferred instantaneously whilst the completed registration docu-ments will be transported subsequently to company headquarters where they will be swiftly processed and entered to the system records. The decision to promote the use of digital photography in the process helped save large quantities of paper and photo chemicals that would have been unnecessarily used otherwise.
Today, the process of registration takes place flawlessly in each of the designated Mobitel cen-tres. The exercise is in full swing, with around 8,000 subscribers getting their SIMs registered daily.
Leisha De Silva Chandrasena, Chairperson, Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel said, "As the national mobile services provider, we have decided to comply 100% with the directive issued by the TRCSL. We will issue a printed ownership certificate, which we call Mobitel Identification Certificate or MIC for short, in addition to the Mobitel Digital Certificate, which can be easily invoked by the user. We see this as an opportunity to encourage the Mobitel community to be civic-minded. We sincerely hope that they will not consider this as an inconvenience. The fact that our cricketing heroes Mahela and Murali took time off from their busy schedules to appear on a TV advertisement - highlighting the importance of getting registered - underscores the concern we have to show on this national endeavour."
Suren J Amarasekera CEO, Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel, stated, "The task of comparing a photo-graph with a subscriber's physical appearance and then making a judgement on its validity could have exerted great pressure on the frontliners. Thus it was decided to include a digital photograph of every subscriber in the records. Accordingly, we have provided facilities for any subscriber to get his or her photograph at the centre free of charge, or to bring in his or her photograph if he or she does not like to be photographed there. The digital photograph of the subscriber - taken at the centre or scanned from the photograph produced by the subscriber - would then be transferred swiftly to a central data-base with the aid of our super 3.5G HSPA network. By doing so, we had eliminated the unnecessary usage of paper, photo chemicals, and physical storage space, which is our sincere endeavour to care towards the environment."