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Bangladesh to shut 'illegal, fake' mobile phones from Oct

  • Shamim Ahamed, Senior Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2021-09-11 00:20:38 BdST

bdnews24
Bangladeshi factories are assembling smartphones to fully meet local demand.

The telecom watchdog is going to force illegal and counterfeit mobile handsets out of networks from Oct 1.

The customers may use them until the end of September, but the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission or BTRC will strictly enforce the rules to ban the use of counterfeit and illegal handsets, said its Chairman Shyam Sunder Sikder.

As many as 110,000 new mobile phone handsets are registered every day and approximately 10 percent of them are identified as illegal and counterfeit, according to BTRC.

Accordingly, around 11,000 such handsets are bought by customers each day. The customers who own these mobiles get an automated message saying their sets are illegal or counterfeit the moment they are connected to the network.

The BTRC will take the necessary action on the registration of fake handsets in response to a government decision, said Brig Gen Shahidul Alam, director-general of Spectrum Department, BTRC, when asked if the customers of those 10 percent of fake handsets will have an opportunity to register them.

The telecom watchdog initiated the National Equipment Identity Register (NEIR) in a bid to stop the import and use of illegal mobile phones in Bangladesh.

A total of 306.6 million handsets were registered as of Aug 24 since the process began on Jul 1.

Among them, 300 million handsets connected to the networks of different mobile phone operators were automatically registered until Jun 30.

Mobile phone traders applauded the initiative as it pushed up the sale of legal handsets.

“All of those handsets running under a network have been registered,” said DG Shahidul Alam.

“No illegal or fake mobile phone handsets will be allowed to run under a network from Oct 1. This rule won’t be relaxed at all,” said BTRC Chairman Shyam Sunder Sikder.

“There's been a slump in the sale of illicit mobile phones after the NEIR technology was introduced. We’ve seen a rise in the sale of new handsets,” said Mohammad Mesbah Uddin, the joint secretary of the Bangladesh Mobile Phone Importers' Association or BMPIA.

“It will benefit us further when the new technology programme starts in full swing on Oct 1,” he hoped.

On Jul 1, BTRC rolled out its NEIR technology with a three-month lifeline for illegal sets. Customers will be informed if any of their handsets automatically registered by Jun 30 were found to be illegal, it said.

The new registration process of mobile phones ensures an easy recovery if a phone is lost or stolen, says BTRC.

BTRC signed a deal with Synesis IT in December 2020 for the NEIR technology.

WHAT USERS SHOULD DO

Customers will need to check the legal status of a mobile phone before buying it and then preserve the receipt.

To check the legal status of a phone, they will first need to type “KYD15 digit IMEI number” and send the message to 16002.

A reply SMS will confirm the legal status of the handset.

MOBILES FROM ABROAD

Mobile phones bought or got as a gift from abroad will be automatically connected to Bangladesh’s networks.

But the users will have to submit information online within 10 days to register the handsets on the NEIR.

The customers will get a notification seeking registration once a mobile phone brought from foreign countries joins the local networks.

After the registration is complete, the mobile phone will be legal.

Otherwise, the phone will be considered illegal and users will be notified about the three-month time limit.

To register online, users will have to open an account on neir.btrc.gov.bd and choose the Special Registration option.

They will need to provide IMEI number, photo or scanned copies of necessary documents, such as a visa and receipt.

The customer care centres of mobile phone operators will also provide the registration services.

A traveller can bring a maximum of two mobile phones without duty and six more by paying the duty from abroad, in line with the customs rules.

CHECKING THE LEGAL STATUS OF A PHONE

To check the legal status of a phone, a customer will have to send their IMEI number by dialling *16161# and then selecting the Status Check option.

The phone’s legal status will be confirmed in a reply SMS.

The users can also check the status by using the Citizen Portal on neir.btrc.gov.bd or at the customer care centres of the mobile phone operators.