Telecom regulator TRAI is planning to approach Government of India's Commerce and Industry Ministry to ban imports of mobile phones carrying unauthentic unique IMEI identification number, which helps authorities track users.
"TRAI will soon write to the Commerce Ministry to ban such phones. Import of only those cell phones should be allowed which are certified by GSMA and TIA authorised bodies for GSM and CDMA handsets respectively," an official told PTI.
IMEI or Mobile Equipment Identifiers (MEID) are 15-digit code assigned to a handset and same appears on the operator's network whenever a call is made. Various concerns had been raised over their usage after terrorist attacks in India. GSM Association and Telecommunications Industry Association are global bodies which provide unique numbers to mobile handset companies.
The move aims checking proliferation of mobile handsets with duplicate or cloned IMEI numbers which are also dangerous for national security. Cloning issues in case of CDMA handsets are negligible but it is rampant in case of GSM handsets, the official said.
Government has already banned services on mobile handsets with fake and invalid IMEI numbers after November 30, 2009.
However, according to sources, during a test conducted in a telecom service area, government officials were surprised to see over 18,000 mobile handsets using same IMEI number.
"The idea is to ask importers of handsets to provide certificate issued by GSMA or TIA authorised body for entry of his consignment in the country," the official said.
Mobile phones without the unique security code are making ways into the grey market by using clones of the IMEI numbers of the genuine sets. By using the cloning techniques, IMEI of bona fide mobile sets can be used by anti-social elements. IMEI prevents the use of stolen handsets for making calls and a specific user can be tracked down.
In June 2009, The government had banned import of mobile phones that lack IMEI number.
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