Millions of illegal mobile handsets are at the risk of being blocked by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) after October 20 as part of a massive drive against fake IMEIs throughout the country.
According to the PTA, illegal mobile handsets that don’t come with a valid IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number will be blocked after the expiry of the deadline.
In this regard, the telecom watchdog formally circulated an SMS recently, asking people to get their handsets verified and check if it possesses a valid IMEI number. Otherwise, it will be blocked after October 20.
It also directed users to check and match their IMEI numbers with data from PTA by sending an SMS on 8484.
Only ten days are left till the deadline.
Scope of DIRBS
The telecom regulator has implemented DIRBS (Device Identification Registration & Blocking System, which is a system designed to reduce the use of non-compliant devices.
This system aimed at blocking illegal handsets include those with no or duplicated IMEI numbers, smuggled and snatched mobile phone and other SIM-run devices.
According to the telecoms watchdog, millions of handsets, have been smuggled or not registered with the PTA. Reportedly handsets with duplicated IMEI numbers were smuggled or imported through grey channels. These handheld sets and other devices like tablets will be blocked by PTA after October 20.
At present, many handsets with duplicate IMEIs are available in the market, especially the low-cost, copy-cat versions of branded mobile phones. Those who bought these categories of phones might incur losses.
It is worthwhile to mention here that the telecom watchdog constituted a Type Approval system to reduce the availability of handsets with invalid or no IMEI numbers at the imports stage.
The public at large is not aware of the DIRBS campaign. Even though the procedure of getting your IMEI verified is simpler, however it might not work for people belonging to rural and far flung areas, given the low literacy rates there.
Even some senior citizens in cities might not get understand the procedure of IMEI verification until their relatives and friends guide them within the given period.
The telecom authority should consider sending SMS in English as well as in national and regional languages. It should also put advertisement on media and collaborate with operators and handset makers to drive an awareness campaign.
Benefits of DIRBS
DIRBS has been designed to enhance government revenue by allowing devices that have been imported through proper channels. 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, DIRBS shall facilitate importers of legitimate devices through legal import channels. In short, DIRBS and its successful implementation will benefit the entire mobile ecosystem in Pakistan.
This is not the first time that PTA has been working on blocking of illegal, smuggled and counterfeit phones/tablets based on IMEIs. In fact PTA made similar attempts previously at least thrice in 2008, 2010 and 2013, which proved unsuccessful as IMEI of phones can be changed easily.
Alongside of maintaining the list of IMEIs of illegal, smuggled and stolen phones under DIRBS, PTA will also have to shut down all those mobile shops that offer flashing of IMEIs of mobile phones.
Procedure to Check IMEI
- From Device packaging/box
- From Device (under battery)
- By dialing *#06# USSD command
Procedure to Verify IMEI
- Web Portal: http://dirbs.pta.gov.pk
- Android App: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=pk.gov.dirbs.dvspublic
- SMS: Send IMEI to 8484 short code (10 Paisas plus tax).
You can read this post to know details about DIRBS and its procedures, and secure your phone against getting blocked.