By Habib Al-Shammari, Arab News Staff
Publication Date: 
Thu, 2002-12-12 03:00

JEDDAH, 12 December 2002 — In a bid to end the problem of miscreants tampering with SAWA prepaid mobile phone cards, the Saudi Telecom Company plans to launch shortly an electronic prepaid recharging system to replace the present cards, according to Saleh Al-Jaser, director general of media and market support.

However, he did not give any details of the tamper-proof system.

Another STC official, who did not want to be named, said the new project will put an end to the circulation of phony telephone cards. The new system will enable the selling points, which will enter into contract with any of the nine accredited distribution agencies, to recharge the handsets. The new system will be implemented on an experimental basis at one of the distribution companies for one month and will be extended to others if the trial is successful, the source said.

Instead of recharging for amounts such as SR100, the proposed system will allow the recharging for any amount of money with no lower or higher limit. When the recharging operation is completed with success STC will send a text message to the subscriber and another to the selling point.

The recharging cost will be deducted from the deposit the retailer has placed with the distributing company. The new system will also do away with the costly task of printing 20 million cards monthly.

Following complaints from both subscribers and retailers about miscreants breaking the secret numbers on the cards with the help of a laser device without removing the cover the STC had started an inquiry into such illegal operations.

The company also adopted several measures in collaboration with the firm that manufactures SAWA cards to protect the cards from being tampered with.

It was reported earlier that several STC regional offices received thousands of complaints about phony SAWA cards. The most common complaint was the secret number was broken into and used by someone else.

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