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All Mobile Handsets To Be Registered

The telecom regulator is set to introduce a registration process for all mobile handsets in the country with a view to mitigating the challenges of illegal import, theft, cloning, organized crimes and health hazard.

The mobile operators themselves will register the handsets that are in use in its network, through which it has access to information such as the unique IMEI numbers of handsets, SIM numbers and national ID cards.

While the customers will not be inconvenienced for the regulation at present, they will face a problem when switching devices at a later date: they must provide proof of purchase of the handset to the operator for it to work.

Up to three handsets can be brought from abroad tax-free. The handsets must be registered at the customer service center of the mobile operator by showing the proof of purchase.

On the other hand, no other SIM will work in the stolen handsets if its original user raises a claim with proper documents.

And after some time, all SIMs will become inactive on the handsets that are not legally imported, according to the regulation.

The regulation drafted by the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission will enhance the security from the law and order aspect as well, said officials related with the process.

“We have registered all the SIMs with the NID and IMEI will also be tagged with it and that will give us mileage for ensuring security,” said an official asking not to be named.

The International Mobile Equipment Identity or IMEI is a unique number to identify the device’s authenticity and it is usually found printed inside the battery compartment of the phone and can also be displayed on-screen on most phones by entering *#06# on the dial pad. Industry insiders said through this process illegal import will be completely halted.

BTRC has already shared the draft of the Equipment Identity Register with the related stakeholders and asked them to send their recommendations within ten days.

However, corporate SIMs will be out of this procedure as for this segment multiple SIMs are registered on a single NID.

In the national database, three types of handsets will be categorized as ‘white’: those imported legally or duly assembled by the local assembler after paying all the taxes.

Handsets that were illegally imported by inbound passengers will be marked ‘grey’. Those carrying such handsets will be barred from the network after a certain period.

There will be a ‘black’ category, which would comprise of stolen handsets, expired IMEIs and fake IMEIs. Those handsets will never belive in any mobile network in the country.

The guidelines also state that some numbers will be registered as VIPs, so that the filtering process can be overridden at the special instruction of the government.

A top official of the telecom regulator said they will allow even illegally imported handsets for the next few months and they will be tough after that. Mobile operators said they also hope the process cleans up the industry.

“We are working on the draft guideline and will share our thoughts with the regulator,” said Sayed Talat Kamal, head of communications at Grameenphone.

Currently, the annual handset market size is about Tk 10,000 crore, of which 30 percent is occupied by illegal parties, said Mohammad Mesbah Uddin, joint secretary of the Bangladesh Mobile Phone Importers Association.

And through this process, the government’s earning will also be ensured.

On the other hand, with the help of the importers, BTRC is establishing a database of the legally imported handsets’ IMEI.

If anybody wants to sell a handset, they can go to a customer care center and deregister the IMEI numbers from their NIDs. The person who will buy the handset will be able to register the handset in his/her name.―The Daily Star

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