Huge number of mobile handsets may face disconnections by December one, following a directive by the Department of Telecom (DOT), banning all handsets that do not carry the legitimate International Mobile Equipment Identify (IMEI) number according to Indian Cellular Association (ICA), the mobile industry apex body.
Talking to reporters, Pankaj Mohindroo, President, ICA told reporters in Bangalore on Wednesday that IMEI number was a 15-digit code that identifies a mobile and helps prevent use of stolen handsets for making calls by enabling security agencies to track down the specific user.
Though there were no official statistics on the number of handsets without IMEI number that could face disconnections, a speculated industry guess was around 25 million, he said.
Supporting the DOT's directive to bar services to such illegal or unbranded handsets from November 30, 2009, the ICA had rolled out a nationwide campaign to create awareness of the directive and to prevent sale and purchase of the devices.
The proliferation of unbranded and fake phone devices market, many of which either posses no IMEI number or carry invalid or cloned numbers posed a serious threat to national security as they could not be tracked, he said.
These devices mainly sourced from China and was adversely impacting the legal organised mobile devices market apart from causing huge loss in revenue to the government. The handsets and batteries were manufactured in extremely poor condition and lack of safety mechanism like Protection Circuit Model, resulting both in poor performance besides posing health hazards to the user, he said.
On the current status, Pankaj said that there was already a ban of import of mobile phones with wrong IMEI. The Ministry of Commerce and Industry had issued a notification to this effect on June 16, 2009.
He said there was also a directive from the Centre asking operators not to process and reject calls from mobile handsets with IMEI number not available in the updated GSMSA database or without IMEI numbers from November 20.
Consumers who had purchased such handsets were now likely to face disconnections, he said.
A consumer who wanted to check whether their GSM handset device was genunine could type #06# which will result in their IMEI number being displayed on their handset. A genuine IMEI number is a 15 digit number, he said.
To verify whether the number was a genuine one and not a cloned or duplicate or fake number, the consumer could also type the word IMEI followed by space and then typing the actual 15 digit number and SMS to 57886. The consumer would receive a reply providing the brand name and model number for which the number has been originally alloted and inform whether the number was a valid or invalid number, he said.
The ICA had listed out measures like urging customs to stop imports of counterfeit, fake or cloned mobiles at port entry, air or sea by issuing a notification and urging retailers to sell only genuine mobiles with legal IMEI numbers. PTI