The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to permit cellular companies to issue three data-only SIMs, used specifically for Internet browsing, in addition to the five SIM-limit already in place for voice callers, per individual.
Under PTA rules, people are allowed only to have up to five SIM cards per one national identity card. The ruling allows each individual to purchase three SIMs solely for data use, over that limit. A three-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali had taken up a petition moved by China Mobile – the parent company of Zong – seeking directions for the PTA to not apply the five SIM-limit to data-only SIMs.
The Supreme Court also asked PTA to review this order in three months and, in case the authority needed to increase the number of data-only SIMs allowed to an individual, the court said PTA could do so on its own without seeking further intervention from the Supreme Court. During Thursday’s proceedings, Advocate Muhammad Shafaqat Jan, representing Zong, argued that the company had already invested $560 million and applying the ban would make their 4G licence practically redundant.