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Why is BTRC mulling registration for all mobile handsets?

  • Published at 10:18 pm January 14th, 2019
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REUTERS

The initiative will allow the telecom regulator to achieve a number of goals

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) is planning to have all types of mobile handsets registeredfor three reasons and kick off the initiativeby the end of this month.

The reasons, according to BTRC, are ensuring national security, increasing revenue of the government by preventing illegal entry of handsets, and decreasingmobile phone-based crimes.

Bangladesh Mobile Phone Importers Association (BMPIA)is helping the telecom regulator to implement the initiative — registering every single handset in the country to prevent consumers from using duplicate or fake handsets.

“Through this, the BTRC will be able to restrict production of duplicate and fake handsets, prevent illegal imports, cloning and theft,increase government revenueand ensure national security,” Senior Assistant Director of BTRC Zakir Hossain Khan told the Dhaka Tribune on Monday.

“If a mobile phone is not registeredin the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) database, it will stop working; and by using the IMEI code, it will be easier to identify anyone who is becoming a national securitythreat,” he added.

According to the BMPIA,there was a demand of about 100 million mobile phoneslastyear, and around 20 million of them had entered the market illegally, while the BTRC annual report states that 25-30 million mobile phones are importedevery year.

“While the market size is approximately Tk10,000 crore,at least Tk3,000 crore of that comes in illegally,” said BMPIA Joint Secretary Mohammad Mesbahuddin.

“And because of the illegal mobile phones available in the market,the government is losing around Tk1,000core in revenue every year,” he added.

When will the registration system begin?

In the recently published draft guidelines of the Equipment Identity Register (EIR) for mobile phone operators, the initiative mentioned that a databasewill be created withthe IMEI numbers of all mobile handsets.

BMPIA and BTRC are working together to create the IMEI database where the mobile phones will be listed in three categories — Black, White and Grey. The central server will be installed at BTRC.

According to the guidelines, “White” means all types of handsets that were legally imported andlegally made in the country and registered with BTRC; “Grey” means suspicious mobile handsetsabout which the operatorswill be warned; and “Black” means stolen handsets, and phones with expired or fake IMEIs.

Mesbahuddin said that the databasewas almost ready, and the registration system might come into effect by the end of January.

“We are done with installing the hardware and software and documentation has alreadystarted. As soon as the documentation process is done, we will be ready to launch the database,” he added. 

Explaining how the telecom regulator will implement the system, Zakir Hossain said: “After launching the IMEI database, a private organization will be given the licenseto maintain the mobile phoneregistration procedure —like the mobile number portability (MNP)procedure was maintained.

“If anyone gets a mobile handset as a gift from abroad, he or she will have to register their IMEI code at the authorized organization within a given time period, otherwise it will not work.”

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