The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is planning to approach the Commerce and Industry Ministry to ban the import of mobile phones carrying unauthentic unique IMEI identification numbers. “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.

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.

IMEI or a Mobile Equipment Identifier (MEID) is 15-digit code assigned to a handset and the 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.

Cloning issues in case of CDMA handsets are negligible but it is rampant in case of GSM handsets, the official said.

The 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 the 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.

(This article was published on August 5, 2012)
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