PTA to Devise System To Block Illegal, Smuggled and Stolen Phones

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) is mulling to devise a system called Device Identification, Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS) to block the illegal and counterfeit mobile handsets being used across the country while posing serious threat to public safety.

System will also support the blockade of stolen/snatched phones, if their IMEI numbers are reported to the concerned bodies,

The telecom watchdog will design DRIBS which will operate as Centralized Equipment Identity Register to discourage influx of mobile handsets and tablets imported through grey channel at the cost of public safety and tax revenue to the national kitty.

In simpler words, PTA will maintain a list of allowed IMEIs (imported legally, PTA approved IMEIs, IMEIs paired with CNICs etc.) to be allowed to register with local networks. All other IMEIs, called blacklisted phones/tablets will not be able to get registered with cellular networks.

In the consultation document titled “Device Identification, Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS)”, PTA sought feedback of the stakeholders including mobile handset makers, mobile phone companies and consumers by July 18, 2016 in order to take an initiative as per recently introduced Telecom Policy 2015.

With the launch of 3G/4G services in the country for past two years, the arrival of hi-tech handsets are on the rise but the higher taxes on handsets opened the door of imports through improper channels or smuggling or through unauthorized importers costing not only revenue losses to the government but also posing serious threats as these handsets are not registered with authority and cannot be traced or monitored through mobile phone networks in case of misuse.

The system will use IMEI of device along with other parameters and help in identifying, monitoring and regulating such devices.

It will have capability to help identify counterfeit and illegally imported mobile devices that avoid collection of tax revenues, contribute towards security issues, and negatively impact both end users and MNOs in Pakistan.

PTA quoted examples of nine countries—Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Colombia, UAE, Uganda, Egypt, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Ukraine — which have already set up a centralized system to overcome the issues of counterfeit and illegal devices and negative repercussions in their territories in the past, and successfully achieved results.

PTA said that influx of illegal devices are mainly misused in criminal and fraudulent activities.

The proposed DIRBS will enable identification and blocking of these illegal/invalid devices in the market and active on mobile phone networks with the help of cellular operator and handset makers and Consumers.

PTA describes Illegal/invalid devices (mobile handsets, tablets, SIM based routers, SIM based Laptops) include:

  • Counterfeit devices (replicas of official OEMs’ original devices)
  • Illegally imported devices (import tax not paid)
  • Devices with invalid IMEIs (IMEIs not assigned by GSMA)
  • Devices with duplicate IMEIs (multiple devices with same IMEI)
  • Devices reported as stolen/lost (reported locally in Pakistan and globally to GSMA)

DIRB Functions

  • PTA within the framework will introduce a mechanism that will allow for mobile handsets producers, mobile phone operators to report to PTA any business identified as source of stolen devices.
  • Mobile phone companies will report to PTA any devices latched on to their network and reported/identified as stolen.
  • Mobile operators will block stolen terminal equipment once reported.
  • End users and retailers should verify IMEI validity of devices.
  • PTA will manage and install the required hardware, software and infrastructure through its own resources.

Additionally, it shall manage the operation and maintenance of the Hardware, Software and Infrastructure for the entire project excluding any up-gradation of Mobile Operators’ EIR or any facility/system if required at MNO or OEM/Distributors side.

DIRB Benefits

DIRBS will enhance government revenue by allowing devices imported through proper channel. DIRBS will not only monitor devices being brought into the country in the future, but will also check the installed base of devices currently active or being sold in the channel.

Furthermore, DIRB shall facilitate importers of legitimate devices to continue import of genuine mobile devices through legal import channels. In short, DIRBS and its successful implementation will benefit the entire mobile ecosystem in Pakistan.

Challenges

This is not the first time that PTA is thinking about maintaining a white-list and blacklist of phones/tablets based on IMEIs, in fact PTA made similar attempts previously at least thrice in 2008, 2010 and 2013, however, those instances remained unsuccessful as IMEI of phones can be changed easily.

Alongside maintaining the list of IMEIs of illegal, smuggled and stolen phones, PTA will also have to shut down all those mobile shops that offer the flashing of IMEIs of mobile phones.

The consultation document can be completely viewed here for detail insight.


  • Fakhre Alam

    Acha ji. PTA should allow free registration of IMEIs of those phones which overseas Pakistanis bring while coming back to the home country.

    • Zawyar Ur Rehman

      And waste a good oppurtunity to loot them? Forget about it .

      • Hassan Mahmood Yousafzai

        Looks like they have thought about this also

        “3.4Guests Devices Registration
        DIRBS will give an option to the guests/visitors entering the country to register their own devices in the
        system. Guest devices with valid IMEIs will be registered in the system for the designated period of
        time. The device will be registered using identity number (ID card or Passport) and other personal
        details and will be added to the notification list. Guests will be notified during the period about the
        remaining duration. After the deadline, these devices will be blocked from being operational on any
        mobile network operator.”

        • Zawyar Ur Rehman

          Told yea :D

      • Ishtiaq

        As of now, it just seems Kamai ka Zariya of PTA. Is system k implement hone k baad PTA wale khod dou dou sou main registration kar k de rahe honge illegally. So worry not and sub mil k kaho.
        Shairrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

  • Siddique

    Billlllllli ke khuwab mai chichrey……….

  • Ali Tariq

    So, if this is true few things come into mind. First I guess this will be run by PTA itself if not they will outsource it and the consumer data will be in there hands. This data can be selled and can be used by other mobile manufacturers. Hmm,.. So business is the name of the game…. Awam ko bus paryshan kar lo

  • Arsalan Shah

    RIP all Smuggled Korean LG sets!

    • Tufail Ahmed

      And I Phones too

  • Aamir Ijaz

    A question: If someone buy phone from abroad and bring here, will it not work here within this system?

    • Muhammad Haris

      you have to register that imei from pta

  • Usama

    Fraudia pta ka aik aur karnama take laug tax dain aur in haramio ke jaib barhe. Pehle tax Kam Karo phir sumeggled ke Jan ko rona.

  • Ali Junaid

    I had brought a legal Galaxy S7 phone from Saudia Arabia for my brother as gift. From the document, it looks like the phone will not work once this system is implemented. In such case, PTA should also devise a system to pay tax for such phones and to add them permanently in the system.

    • Muhammad Haris

      You can , Its a month long process but you can and there is urgent method which cost some 5-8k for that

      • eyescreaman

        Are gifts subjected to taxes/duty ?

  • Awais Ahmed

    This will never be possible. The phones people already have currently will have to be allowed, all of them. Since the lack of this system uptil now have allowed so many mobile phones in the country already, with no track of which were imported legally or otherwise.

    The country even if proposes it, will have to impose this on the new phones yet to come and not the current phones already arrived in the country.

    Mobile phones in the country are like currency in Pakistan, people trade and purchase other stuff in the markets and this can cause chaos completely as almost every other person will be angry over his halal earned bought mobile phone that some market guy sold him.

    P.S: Itni strong hamari government ki tech industry hoti tou aaj hum pata nae kahan hotay. Chillax

    • S78

      If majority of people buy illegal phone from any one (without box / CNIC of seller), majority does not mean it becomes Legal…

  • Zeeshan

    Quick!!! Bring all the sets you can. Make hay while the sun shines.

  • Zeeshan

    I will be inconvenienced because I am a frequent visitor to this country run by nuts.

  • Zeeshan

    PTA is just a front. The real hamari is the guy who arranges money collection for nannu.

  • Eli Ehsan

    That’s not a SYSTEM! it’s like a smartphones profiling scheme or something. Even the countries mentioned don’t do that. As far as the “GREY CHANNEL” is concerned, GOOD-LUCK with stopping that like the rest of gazillion illegal imported goods customs successfully fails to stop entering the market here.

  • Muhammad Ashraf

    question, what happens if some foreigner visits Pakistan with cell phone, do he need to buy here another phone with permitted imei in order to remain connected.

  • Fayez Najeeb

    bunch of losers wasting time..

  • ImranG

    This is all fantasy. They can’t pull this off.

    1- What about all handsets already imported illegally and are in use by people in millions. Will you all shut them off.
    2- Handsets bought as gifts from abroad. You can’t devise a system to handle their registration with your so called expertise.
    3- You can’t possibly stop flashing of imei of handsets. Importers will first flash the handset and then sell it. So, problem will remain same where you were.

    Best thing is to reduce taxes to such a level which discourage illegal import and make you money also.

  • Sheldon Cooper

    what about their smuggled cars, illegal property, money laundering, 9+ account figures, fake degrees, adultery/drug/abuse/harass cases ? In logon ki ghareebo pe hi phatti hy.

    Aur lao aesy hukamran, aisa system and aisa nizam. Whole nation is suffering because of such culprit leaders and idiot voters.

  • Idiosyncratic

    issy kehty hain panchon ungliyan ghee mein or sir karhai mein wa PTA

  • AbdulB1

    Foolish idea as many people are using IMEI from cheap mobiles on their imported illegal phones in Turkey. PTA is so stupid they dont know IMEI can be changed easily? All stolen mobile phones being sold in the market have different IMEI.

  • Abdullah

    Blocking a Reported device is fine. but blocking imported devices is a stupid idea. If you want to block imported devices, then at least make it possible for us to buy things from our own country. businesses are moving away from country, and you find a new way to torture a mango man. Thumbs down to PTA

  • Moonbaby

    Wish I knew this sooner. Couldn’t buy a great phone for a great price online because of this whole thing..