DoT Asks Telcos to Follow KYC Norms Before Issuing M2M SIM Cards

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on Thursday issued a notification to telecom operators who are offering Machine-to-Machine (M2M) services to follow Know Your Customer (KYC) norms before issuing SIM cards. The DoT also allowed the use of Embedded SIMs or eSIMs in both single and multiple profile configurations with Over the Air subscription update facility, as per global specifications and standards. The eSIMs will have to be open to lawful interception and monitoring on the network and also be allowed for portability to other carriers. Moreover, the DoT asked the telecom operators to make existing connections KYC compliant within six months.

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The DoT notification read, “the issuance of such M2M SIMs by authorised telecom licensee having a valid licence under Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 to the entity/organisation providing M2M services need to follow KYC norms prior to issuance of such SIMs.”

It also said, “the licensee shall ensure adequate verification of each and every customer before enrolling him as a subscriber.”

Unlike person-to-person communication, M2M communication involves communication between two or more devices based on new or evolving technologies without the possibility of human intervention.

It is mobile network driven by remote communication between entities or machines for automation needs, and the applications vary from smart appliances to smart homes and even connected cars. The technology is a key part of the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution.

Outgoing or incoming calls from such M2M SIMs will be allowed to/from a predefined set of maximum one number while text messages and data communication shall be allowed only on maximum two numbers, the DoT notification said.

It clarified: “These restrictions are not applicable to calls made to emergency numbers like police, fire, ambulance, etc.”

In cases where M2M SIM is embedded in the device at the time of manufacturing, and it is difficult to figure who the end user might be, the telecom regulator said the telcos would have to follow KYC procedures used for issuing SIMs in bulk when giving them to M2M service providers, subject to conditions.

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the body representing some of the major telecom companies such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Idea Cellular welcomed DoT’s M2M new service guidelines. It said these guidelines would provide “clarity on implementation and rollout” of M2M services in India.

“While these guidelines will facilitate the speedy expansion of M2M services in India, the industry is assessing them and may require time to implement, and will continue to engage with DoT on the same,” COAI director general Rajan Mathews told ET.

Telcos Airtel and Reliance Jio launched the first eSIM based Apple Watch Series 3 lineup in India very recently.

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