Saturday, January 19, 2019

BTRC to bring 30 million illegal handsets under surveillance

  • Shamim Ahamed, Senior Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2019-01-12 17:38:08 BdST

Telecom regulator BTRC has moved to crack down on illegal mobile handsets.

Once the process starts, any SIM other than the one specified with the handset will no longer work on it. After some time, all SIMs will become inactive on the handsets. As a result, customers will be forced to stop using fake or illegal handsets.

Although there are no official figures, businessmen estimate there are about 30 million illegal handsets in Bangladesh.

The BTRC says it has taken the initiative to prevent illegal imports, cloning, theft, health risks, to ensure security and prevent the loss of revenue.

The initiative is mentioned in the recently released draft guidelines of the Equipment Identity Register, or EIR, for mobile phone operators.

A database of illegal handset users will be created through the initiative.

According to the draft guidelines, operators will create this database with the IMEI numbers of all mobile handsets as per their licence policy. There will be three categories in the database -- black, white and grey.

Under the draft guidelines, 'white' means all types of legally imported handsets, legally made handsets in the country and registered handsets of BTRC.

'Grey' means suspicious mobile handsets. These will work on specific SIMs, but the operators will be warned about these handsets.

'Black' means the IMEI numbers of stolen handsets, expired IMEI and fake IMEIs.

The guidelines also state that some numbers will be registered as VIPs, so that the filtering process can be overridden at the special instruction of the government.

According to the policy, handsets that are cloned, illegal and fake, illegally imported but currently operating on a mobile network, may be registered according to the operator’s SIM. Users will be given the opportunity to register their handsets within a specified time.

These handsets will be on the 'grey' list. Owners of such sets will be given a deadline to register by the BTRC.

 “An initial decision has been taken to allow fake and illegal handsets to run on specific SIMs for a period of six months after the start of the system,” a senior official of BTRC told bdnews24.com.

One mobile phone operator requested the regulator to shift the deadline by one year.

However, in the case of corporate SIMs, the BTRC has set different rules.

Operators will have to implement the EIR system within two months of the directive being issued.

If someone receives a handset as a gift from abroad, they can register the handset at the customer service centre by showing the proof of purchase.

If anybody wants to sell a handset, they can go to a customer care centre and deregister the IMEI numbers from their NIDs. The person who will buy the handset will be able to register the handset in his name.

The customers will be able to register handsets by showing their purchase receipts or required papers without a SIM.

Through EIR modules, operators can control stolen mobiles, fraudulent and cloned handset networks. If any handset gets stolen, the customer can file a complaint with a customer service centre and immediately no other SIM will work on the handset.

The customer has to register his handset in the system through the SIM. Without registration, mobile handsets will not work and this will stop illegal activities in the handset market, according to BTRC.