The head of the Association of Mobile Operators of Tajikistan (AMOT), Ghafour Erkayev, considers that there ought to proceed from realities of life in Tajikistan while setting tariffs.  According to him, the price for SIM card in Tajikistan should not be more than US$10.00.  

The Antimonopoly Agency of Tajikistan has proposed the mobile phone companies operating in Tajikistan to express their opinion about the cost of SIM cards.  

“The Antimonopoly Agency has sent letters to four mobile operators (TT-Mobile (Megafon-Tajikistan), Bailion-Mobile, and Tacom (Beeline TM) and Tcell) functioning in the country and the AMOT asking to express their opinion about setting new price for SIM card in the country during this week,” AMOT head, Ghafour Erkayev, told Asia-Plus in an interview.

“We consider that it is impossible to prepare any view on such an important issues in such a short time.  We should study the mobile communications market ,” Erkayev said.    

He further added that subject to realities of life in Tajikistan (living conditions and average monthly wages), the price for SIM card in Tajikistan should not be more than US$10.00 (equivalent to some 95.00 somoni).    

Recall, the authorities have proposed to raise the cost of a new SIM card in Tajikistan to 250 somoni from September 1, 2018.  The move was initiated by Tajikistan’s Interior Ministry ‘for security reasons’ and backed by the Majlisi Namoyandagon (Tajikistan’s lower chamber of parliament) Committee on Defense and Security.

Meanwhile, President Emomali Rahmon has suspended the decision of the Communications Service under the Government to set a new SIM card tariff for mobile phone companies operating in Tajikistan until January 1, 2019.  He has also ordered Ozoda Rahmon, the chairperson of President’s Executive Office, to study the issues related to the SIM card prices and the number of SIM cards per person.  

Speaking at a government session, President Emomali Rahmon ordered on August 30 to temporarily reverse the communications service agency’s decision on setting the price for a SIM card at 250.00 somoni. 

Currently, SIM cards are available for ‘next to nothing’ as mobile network operators (MNOs) bundle the cards into start-up packages with data/voice credit.  

6.1 million SIM cards were reportedly reregistered in Tajikistan last year.  On average, one cellular company reportedly sells up to 300,000 SIM cards per year. 

Up to 2016 it was estimated that 70% of active SIM cards had been sold in Tajikistan without producing proper identification.  Authorities are worried that unregistered SIM cards are making their way into the hands of terrorists.  A campaign to confiscate ‘illegally-sold’ SIM cards was conducted in 2016 and the ban of illegally sold SIM cards is now much stricter enforced.

The government started a second registration or re-registration of all SIM cards in 2016.  From November SIM card owners must bring their passport or other official ID documentation and their SIM to one of the cellco’s service centers to register their identity in compliance with the order.  All new SIM cards are now legally only given out at the provider stores.  This applies to visitors and tourists as well.

Control over the internet tightened in 2016 when laws for blocking of internet and telephone services during so-called 'counterterrorism operations' were introduced.  Tajikistan adopted a law prohibiting the use of unidentified SIM cards.

Since 2017, Tajikistan citizens are only allowed to buy up to two SIM cards from one operator.  Any additional SIMs per person will be blocked.  Parents buying SIMs for their children need to present a birth certificate.  In summer 2017 around 20% of all SIM cards in Tajikistan were disconnected, after the users failed to register their personal details.