Why a telco firm used emergency alert for SIM card advisory

April 24, 2023 - 12:19 PM
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hands on a smartphone via Pixabay
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­A telecommunications provider explained why it used the emergency alerts to remind its subscribers of the looming SIM card registration deadline.

The deadline for SIM registration is on Wednesday, April 26.

Over the weekend, several Globe Telecom subscribers took to social media to report that they received an emergency alert about SIM card registration.

Emergency texts or mobile disaster alerts are supposed to be sent “in the event of an impending tropical storm, typhoon, tsunami, or other calamities,” as mandated by Republic Act 10639 or The Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Act.

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Some mobile users, however, reported that they received emergency texts for Globe’s advisories and not for any impending disaster.

Here is a screenshot of a sample message that Globe sent out to its subscribers last Friday, April 21:

In its advisory, Globe was addressing those who have yet to register their SIM cards to their system.

The telco firm also provided details for registration both for prepaid and postpaid subscribers.

“Mag-register bago mag-April 26 para hindi ma-deactivate ang prepaid SIM mo! Please disregard this message if you have already registered,” the advisory reads.

It also concludes by saying: “Together, let’s make the online space safe for everyone!”

This move, however, garnered different reactions from subscribers.

Alerts to stop deactivation

In response to reactions, Globe issued a statement explaining that it sent out these mobile alerts through the Emergency Cell Broadcast System (ECBS) to prevent subscribers from getting deactivated of their much-needed mobile services.

“Globe took this step as it sought to urgently advise its customers to register their SIMs to avoid deactivation of their mobile services, which are crucial for day-to-day needs,” the telco firm said.

“Globe believes lack of connectivity will be detrimental to mobile users, as this will impact access to services crucial for financial transactions, healthcare, learning, livelihood, transport and deliveries, among others,” it added.

“Getting disconnected from mobile services will also deprive mobile users of advisories from the government, including disaster warnings,” the company emphasized.

Globe Group President and CEO Ernest Cu also said that the company resorted to the use of the alert system given that it is a “critical time as the deadline nears.”

“We want to ensure that our customers are compliant with the law to avoid SIM deactivation. This way, they will continue to enjoy our call, text and data services for their day-to-day needs,” he said in a statement.

As of April 22, Globe has only logged over 35.8 million SIM registrations out of its customer base which reached 86.7 million.

Reactions 

Several Filipinos who received Globe’s emergency texts, however, questioned this approach. They said that this system was created to aid disaster preparedness and response.

“Is this the proper use of telecom emergency alerts?” forensic scientist Raquel Fortun tweeted.

“Whoever thought using ACTUAL EMERGENCY SERVICES (you know to alert you of an earthquake, landslide, war etc.) just to remind their user base to register their SIM really needs to rethink what an EMERGENCY is,” another Filipino said on Twitter.

In the same statement, Globe said that it notified the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) before utilizing the ECBS.

It said that NDRRMC “has given no objections on the use of ECB after prior notice.”