Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has established the Mobile Devices Identification, Registration and Blocking Regulations System (DIRBS) to ensure that stolen and blocked phones, as well as phones with duplicate or non-standard identifiers, are blocked in the country.
DIRBS will be formally launched in a ceremony on Thursday, where PTA will also celebrate the 50 million mobile broadband subscribers milestone.
PTA has established the DIRBS to ensure that non-compliant mobile device are not imported, sold, marketed or connected with the mobile operators’ networks. The move has been taken in order to protect mobile phone users’ data across the country.
It will further ensure that mobile licensees actively identify such phones on their networks and maintain and update industry-wide database with information about such phones for the benefit of the mobile services sector worldwide. The regulations are notified under the Telecommunications Policy of 2015 on the type approval regime for telecommunications.
The PTA has established DIRBS and prescribes standard operating procedures (SOPs) for its implementation on technical, management and operational matters. Stolen phones, blocked phones, and phones with duplicate or non-standard identifiers shall be blocked by the mobile network operator (MNO) from use in Pakistan.
The Working Procedure
The DIRBS already has the necessary hardware and software to implement the system for analysis. It will comprise of a core analysis system combined with subsystems to support verification of IMEIs by stakeholders, registration of IMEI paired exceptions, and import of various inputs including operator device data dumps, GSMA device database, importer device lists, and stolen device lists. The analysis will be performed to allow for identification and tracking of non-compliant devices in accordance with these regulations.
A device verification system interface will be provided by the PTA to type approval holders and authorized distributors for registration and identification of IMEI displayed on the mobile device to verify whether or not the device is a compliant mobile device which has received certification of compliance for technical standards for IMEI devices from the PTA.
The format of the system specified in sub-regulation shall be in accordance with an SOP to be issued by the PTA on notification of these regulations. Authorized distributors and OEMs which are type-approval certificate holders will be required to apply for certification of compliance to technical standards for IMEI devices to the PTA before import or shipment to market as per the prescribed format by the PTA in the type approval regulations, 2004.
Devices imported and shipped in accordance with sub-regulation (2) will be eligible for registration. Individuals importing or carrying a device or devices for personal use will be required to apply for certification of compliance to technical standards for IMEI devices issued by the PTA in accordance with the PTA guidelines and SOPs issued from time to time, as well as the PTA type-approval regulations, to become eligible for registration of the devices.
All non-compliant mobile devices will be included in the blacklist by means of the DIRBS system. Updated blacklist, exception list and notification list will be provided by means of the DIRBS to MNOs at regular intervals. The blacklist will be sent to all MNOs periodically through the DIRBS interface. All devices whose IMEIs are included in the latest blacklist will be denied mobile communication service by the MNOs.
Any blacklisted mobile device will not be activated except for lost/stolen and type approved devices which are verified by the MNO and DIRBS in accordance with the SOP approved by the authority. Subscribers may report their lost or stolen mobile devices and get them blocked on the MNO helpline.
Subscribers may prove the authenticity of their duplicated IMEI device(s) and get them blocked, by submitting valid documents to the PTA and they get services restored through pairing, if the device is ascertained to be compliant after scrutiny of the submitted documents to the PTA. Mobile licensees will become members of the International Mobile Equipment Identity Database (IMEI DB, formerly the CEIR) operated by the GSMA, or others as applicable. Mobile licensees will include countries that are the source of a large number of stolen devices to Pakistan in their IMEI DB notification profile.
The Responsibilities of Mobile Operators
All MNOs shall carry out extensive media campaigns through SMS broadcasts, at their own cost, to educate consumers for the requirement to verify the validity of the mobile devices in their use and the procedure for verification of mobile devices available for sale/purchase, using the field verification system of DIRBS.
The MNOs, authorized dealers and type approval holders shall establish an efficient methodology to receive process and respond promptly to complaints by subscribers regarding their devices. They shall make all reasonable efforts to resolve complaints in accordance with the Telecom Consumers Protection Regulations, 2009. Mobile operators shall not disclose the contents of any data being transmitted or received from DIRBS. It must remain under their control except to the extent permitted by the PTA in writing or through any regulation/instruction/directive.
MNOs shall take all reasonable measures to safeguard the databases from unauthorized interception or unauthorized access. All type approval holders/authorized distributors/ OEMs shall provide accurate information of type approved devices for the issuance of the certification of compliance to technical standards for IMEI devices in order to maintain the updated list of IMEI numbers of devices in the DIRB system.
The PTA will send intimation to all those subscribers who are using non-compliant mobile devices.