Un­reg­is­tered mo­bile phones to be­come un­us­able

Gulf Times - - PAKISTAN -

The Pak­istan Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion Au­thor­ity (PTA) has an­nounced that the long-an­tic­i­pated De­vice Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, Reg­is­tra­tion and Block­ing Sys­tem (DIRBS) would be­come func­tional on Oc­to­ber 20, af­ter which all un­reg­is­tered mo­bile phones would be­come un­us­able.

The DIRBS is an indige­nous so­lu­tion aimed at com­bat­ting the use of smug­gled or coun­ter­feit phone sets which ei­ther serve to re­duce tax rev­enues for the state, or pose po­ten­tial health prob­lems to un­sus­pect­ing con­sumers.

“We rec­om­mend that con­sumers buy only PTA-ap­proved phone sets af­ter Oc­to­ber 20. A con­sumer should text the In­ter­na­tional Mo­bile Equip­ment Iden­tity (IMEI) num­ber printed on the box of a new hand­set to 8484. But he or she should pay for the hand­set only af­ter (s)he re­ceives re­ply that the set is com­pli­ant with the reg­u­la­tory stan­dards,” said the PTA’s di­rec­tor gen­eral for ser­vices Talib Dogar.

He said the tech­nol­ogy will help the au­thor­i­ties counter the prob­lem of coun­ter­feit de­vices that ad­versely af­fects the govern­ment, mo­bile phone op­er­a­tors, dis­trib­u­tors, and con­sumers.

These are the de­vices that are not reg­is­tered with the Global Sys­tem for Mo­bile As­so­ci­a­tion (GSMA) and may be mass-pro­duced by man­u­fac­tur­ers that do not com­ply with in­ter­na­tional stan­dards of pro­duc­tion, re­sult­ing in the pro­lif­er­a­tion of coun­ter­feit, pos­si­bly haz­ardous, mo­bile phones.

The PTA also said it had le­galised the nearly 160mn com­pli­ant and non-com­pli­ant mo­bile de­vices, ac­tive on all the net­works, be­fore the launch of the DIRBS.

All these de­vices would not face any ser­vice in­ter­rup­tion as they would not be blocked by the DIRBS.

“How­ever, a con­sumer who in­serts a SIM (sub­scriber iden­tity mo­d­ule) card other than the one (s)he was us­ing be­fore Oc­to­ber 20 in a non-com­pli­ant mo­bile de­vice af­ter the amnesty pe­riod, will be re­quired to regis­ter the phone’s IMEI with the PTA within two weeks to be able to con­tinue us­ing the hand­set,” Dogar said.

Con­sumers who buy hand­sets abroad would have to regis­ter them in Pak­istan by log­ging on to the PTA’s DIRBS web­site.

Af­ter the one-time reg­is­tra­tion, the con­sumer would be able to op­er­ate the hand­set af­ter fur­nish­ing in­for­ma­tion in­clud­ing their iden­tity card num­ber, the IMEI of the hand­set, and the coun­try where the set was bought.

“In ex­cep­tional cases, such users on roam­ing ser­vices, they will be able to con­tinue us­ing their phones without in­ter­rup­tion. How­ever, as soon as they in­sert a lo­cal SIM, they will have to regis­ter their mo­bile de­vices with PTA,” Dogar said.

An­other se­nior of­fi­cer, Nouman Khalid, ex­plained that in or­der to cre­ate pub­lic aware­ness, the PTA is send­ing SMSes (short mes­sag­ing ser­vice text) to all sub­scribers about the sta­tus of their mo­bile de­vices.

The four types of re­sponses that can be re­ceived by a sub­scriber in­quir­ing about the sta­tus of the IMEI in­clude “com­pli­ant de­vices”, which are the PTA-ap­proved de­vices legally im­ported into Pak­istan.

The sec­ond re­sponse is “valid de­vices”, which are the ones hav­ing valid IMEIs but which are not PTA-ap­proved.

To fa­cil­i­tate such users, the PTA will auto-regis­ter the IMEIs ac­tive on mo­bile net­works be­fore Oc­to­ber 20, and their sta­tus will be com­pli­ant af­ter the said date.

A “non-com­pli­ant” mes­sage means the de­vice ei­ther has an IMEI that is not al­lo­cated by GSMA, or is du­pli­cated.

To fa­cil­i­tate such users, the PTA will auto-pair all such IMEIs ac­tive on mo­bile net­works with spe­cific SIMs be­fore Oc­to­ber 20.

Af­ter that date, such users will be able to use their de­vices with paired SIMs only.

Fi­nally, the “blocked de­vices” mes­sage in­di­cates that the IMEI is blocked as this IMEI had been re­ported stolen ear­lier.

Khalid said that af­ter com­ing into ef­fect, the sys­tem could help the govern­ment in­crease rev­enues from $170mn to $200mn on im­ported phone sets.

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