Server issues mar early hours of SIM registration

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 27) — Subscribers who wanted to register their SIMs early were greeted by server issues despite the telecommunications companies' assurance they are ready to accommodate the deluge of registrants.

Both Globe and SMART registration links showed a "Bad gateway" prompt as of 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, the first day of the mandatory SIM registration.

Globe replied to some netizens, saying they should try to access the link again at a later time.

“Our people are working on it as we speak and we hope to be able to get back on track with the registration anytime of the day,” said Manny Estrada, head of regulatory development and strategy of Globe Telecom Corporate Legal Services Group.

He also told CNN Philippines’ The Source that the company has deployed a team of technical and customer engagement staff to make sure that concerns of customers are addressed and online registration will be seamless once it resumes.

In a statement on Tuesday evening, Globe apologized to its customers who experienced problems and said it has already informed the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) about the issue in its SIM registration portal.

The company explained that “despite all the preparation, technical tests and due diligence” it has conducted, it discovered potential minor vulnerabilities in its microsite that require patching to prevent any serious threat to customer data.

“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,” it said, as it asked for understanding.

Globe added it has requested the NTC for a maximum of three days to observe its registration portal to ensure all patches made are technically stable.

“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,” it added.

On the other hand, Cathy Yang, PLDT-Smart first vice president and corporate communications head, told CNN Philippines that heavy website traffic is “good news” as it shows people are eager to comply with the law.

For now, she asked subscribers to be patient as they increase the capacity of their system.

Meanwhile, CNN Philippines was able to access the registration form of DITO through its app.

Some DITO subscribers also shared how smooth the online registration process was for them.

As of 3 p.m. on Tuesday, the company reported that over 208,000 of their subscribers have successfully registered their SIMs.

It said the process — which has been “generally smooth as promised" — takes an average of four minutes to complete, based on internal tests.

"Our DITOzens can rest assured that we will continue to improve the registration process based on the feedback we receive from our Telecommunity," said DITO chief administrative officer Atty. Adel Tamano.

SMART and DITO also said their subscribers could go to any of their stores where they could be assisted to register.

Complaint center

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) on Monday said issues may occur in the first two weeks of SIM registration, but telcos have assured they will improve their processes.

RELATED: What you need to know about the SIM registration law

The department also launched on Tuesday a 24/7 complaint center where subscribers can report issues or provide suggestion to improve the registration process.

“Concerns related to the SIM registration can be directed to them through hotline 1326,” the DICT said.

Up to 160 million physical SIM cards and e-SIMs are expected to be registered — prepaid and postpaid combined.

At least 400 complaints were received by the department’s hotline as of late Tuesday evening, DICT’s Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC) told CNN Philippines’ The Final Word.

“As of today, we have reached around 400 to 500 complaints,” CICC Undersecretary Alexander Ramos said.

“All are focused on access to the websites of the telcos. The others that are calling are asking for guidance on how to go online, but mostly it's the lack of connectivity to the websites,” he added.

Ramos said only 10 people were manning the phones in the morning but were increased to 50 people later in the day.

He assured registrants, however, that the agency will beef up manpower to offer help around the clock.

According to the law’s implementing rules and regulations or IRR, mobile phone subscribers with prepaid SIM cards must register and verify their phone numbers with their respective public telecommunications companies or PTEs 180 days from Dec. 27, 2022. After the extension period of 120 days, unregistered SIMs will be deactivated. Owners of deactivated SIMs have only five days to register and reactivate.

As for postpaid subscribers, their data submitted to their respected service provider will only need to be verified.

Meanwhile, SIMs of foreign national end-users visiting as tourists shall only be valid for 30 days. It may be extended upon submission of an approved visa extension.