Equity- Safaricom saga has hit the headlines for the longest time at least for kachwanya.com since the introduction of equity MVNO’s thin-SIM technology a maiden move in the Kenyan telcom industry. After a delayed launch that was meant for July, Communication Authority of Kenya has finally made a decision.
Safaricom had earlier written to the Authority with concerns that the thin-SIM alongside any other on GSM handsets may cause interruption and interception of communication. The mobile operator also said that the dual use of overlay SIM may introduce vulnerabilities in the network as well as infringing on intellectual property rights.
The accusation called for investigations which were done by fair parties; Communication Authority, Central Bank of Kenya and GSMA which engaged both Safaricom and Finserve Kenya for separate hearings on the matter. The SIM’s manufacturer Taisys SIMoME was also inclusive in the hearings for clarification of the technology.
In a regulators stakeholder conference, various observations were made about the overlay SIM;
- The thin SIM complies with all minimum mandatory international standards pertaining to the manufacturing of the thin SIM.
- No major complaints and particularly on interception of traffic of the primary SIM card has been reported so far.
- Tests conducted on Taisys thin SIM by china National Computer Quality Supervising Test Center shows this particular thin SIM complies with applicable ISO and ETSI standards
- Based on the opinion of GSMA, there are no specific and confirmed vulnerabilities arising from the use of the thin SIM.
Following this investigations, the Communication Authority found no sufficient evidence to block the use of the SIM in the country which will have the SIM rolled out under conditions of strict observation for a period of one year in which only Taisy’s thin-SIM will operate in the market. The Authority will therefore hire an internationally reputable firm to conduct a security audit on all SIM cards and in particular the use of thin SIM in mobile transfer services, as well as a framework for regulating the use of the SIM in the market.
In case of any security threats brought by the use of overlay SIM, operations will be halted with immediate effect forthwith pending the final recommendations from the security report.