Kathmandu, December 7
Realising that a huge number of mobile phones with fake International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers have been sold in the domestic market, Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) is planning to bring such mobile phones into government system by issuing genuine IMEI numbers to such handsets.
Under its plan to register every mobile set being sold in the market to control the grey market, NTA is preparing to issue genuine IMEI numbers to fake mobile phones.
On April 13, NTA had begun the Equipment Identity Register (EIR) system to bring every mobile phone in the government’s net, crack down on illegal sale of mobile phones, enable tracking system and make fake handsets inoperable. The EIR system was launched with the primary aim of controlling the growing grey market of mobile phones in the country. Under this system, importers of mobile phones have to mandatorily register the IMEI number or Electronic Serial Number (ESN) or Mobile Equipment Identifier (MEID) of all mobile sets at NTA.
“Though there has been a surge in importers registering IMEI numbers of their mobile sets, a huge number of mobile sets with fake IMEI numbers are still being sold in the domestic market. Making such phones inoperable suddenly can affect a large mass of mobile users,” said Min Prasad Aryal, spokesperson for NTA, adding that NTA is planning to give an opportunity to such mobile importers to register their sets at NTA and get authorised IMEI numbers.
Aryal further said that NTA would introduce Genuine IMEI Implantation System to issue genuine IMEI numbers to such mobile phones. However, the telecommunication sector regulator is yet to collaborate with international firms authorised to issue IMEI numbers to mobile phones. He informed that only four firms from India, United Kingdom, United States of America and China are authorised to issue new IMEI numbers for mobile sets.
NTA plans to facilitate mobile phone users to check the status of their IMEI numbers — whether it is fake or genuine — through SMS and NTA’s official website.
Meanwhile, IMEI numbers of more than six million units of mobile phones have been registered at NTA since registration of IMEI numbers of mobile phones for importers was made mandatory, according to Aryal.
The private sector has also been supporting NTA in this campaign. A few days back, Deepak Malhotra, president of Mobile Phone Importers’ Association (MPIA), had said that importers would deliver full support to the government to control the ever increasing grey market.
A version of this article appears in print on December 08, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.