According to the telecom companies, self- know your customer (KYC) process for issuing new SIM cards and port phone numbers can only be availed by users with online access.
However, telcos are hopeful that the rising smartphone penetration and the spread of common service centres (CSCs), will help in extending the facility to a larger subscriber base, including those who are currently non-internet users.
In its recent letter to the telecom secretary Anshu Prakash, dated April 2, 2020, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) had proposed an end-to-end digital method to process a connection/porting request.
However, the proposal was criticised by some industry experts. In their view, the digital-KYC does not address the larger chunk of users without internet access, smartphone and no exposure to digital payments. At present, India has around 370-400 million feature-phone users.
To this end, COAI suggests that this is available at the CSC run by government in the rural areas and hence is available to users without a computer or smartphone. COAI believes that given the high penetration of smart phones and PCs, it would not be difficult for a potential new customer to locate a person with a PC or smartphone who can assist with the new process.