Turkmenistan: cell-phone operator restricts the number of sim-cards per subscriber

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ASHGABAT (TCA) — Turkmen mobile operator Altyn Asyr has imposed restrictions on the number of sim-cards to a maximum of two per subscriber, the independent news website Chronicles of Turkmenistan reported with reference to one of the offices of the cellular communications provider in Ashgabat.

The number of sim-cards registered per subscriber is checked against a passport number.

According to Altyn Asyr representatives, the restrictions were imposed after Russia-based MTS had curtailed its operations in September 2017. While MTS had been providing its services in Turkmenistan, up to 5 sim-cards per person were allowed to be registered with Altyn Asyr.

The previously registered telephone numbers are not disconnected in case a subscriber uses them and refills the balance at least once in three months.

When asked why such restrictions have been imposed, and what to do if a subscriber needs more than 2 sim-cards, for instance, for himself/herself and several children, an employee of the Turkmen operator was unable to respond and said that the executives of Altyn Asyr headquarters need to be contacted for further clarification.

Chronicles of Turkmenistan has previously reported that after MTS had left the Turkmen market, many customers of the Russian mobile operator switched to Altyn Asyr. The Turkmen provider failed to handle the workload, which resulted in the decreased quality of cellular communication, disconnected calls, and a very slow Internet connection speed.

In July, Russian telecommunications giant MTS said it had filed a case with a World Bank arbitration center for at least $750 million in compensation from Turkmenistan for the forced closure of its daughter company in the Central Asian country.

MTS has filed a Request for Arbitration against the Sovereign State of Turkmenistan with the World Bank’s International Center for Settlement of Investments Disputes (ICSID).

In September 2017, MTS’s wholly-owned subsidiary MTS-Turkmenistan was compelled to suspend its operations in Turkmenistan due to the actions of the Government of Turkmenistan, including the actions of the Ministry of Communications and other entities owned, controlled and directed by the Turkmen State, the Russian company said.

Sergey Kwan

TCA