Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) is formulating a system – Device Identification, Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS) – to block the illegal and counterfeit mobile handsets in use across the country aimed at ensuring public safety and avoid tax revenue loss.
Sources revealed to Business Recorder that PTA will design DIRBS which will operate as Centralised Equipment Identity Register to discourage influx of mobile handsets and tablets imported through grey channel at the cost of public safety and tax revenue to the national kitty.
The Authority will maintain a list of IMEIs (imported legally, PTA approved IMEIs, IMEIs paired with CNICs etc) that would be allowed to register with local networks. All other IMEIs, called blacklisted phones/tablets will not be able to register with cellular networks.
The system will use IMEI of device along with other parameters and help in identifying, monitoring and regulating such devices.
It will have the capability to help identify counterfeit and illegally imported mobile devices that avoid collection of tax revenues, contribute towards security issues, and negatively impact both end users and mobile network operators.
The proposed DIRBS will enable identification and blocking of these illegal/invalid devices in the market and be active on mobile phone networks with the help of cellular operator and handset makers and consumers.
PTA describes illegal/invalid devices (mobile handsets, tablets, SIM based routers, SIM based Laptops) as: counterfeit devices (replicas of official OEMs’ original devices), illegally imported devices (import tax not paid), devices with invalid IMEIs (IMEIs not assigned by GSMA), devices with duplicate IMEIs (multiple devices with same IMEI) and devices reported as stolen/lost (reported locally in Pakistan and globally to GSMA).
PTA within the framework will introduce a mechanism that will allow for mobile handset producers, mobile phone operators to report to PTA any business identified as source of stolen devices. Mobile phone companies will report to PTA any devices latched on to their network and reported/identified as stolen.
Mobile operators will block stolen terminal equipment once reported. End users and retailers would require verifying IMEIs validity of devices. PTA will manage and install the required hardware, software and infrastructure through its own resources.
Additionally, it shall manage the operation and maintenance of the hardware, software and infrastructure for the entire project excluding any up-gradation of mobile operators’ Equipment Identity Register (EIR) or any facility/system if required at MNO or Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM)/distributors’ side.
With the launch of 3G/4G services in the country for the past two years, the arrival of hi-tech handsets are on the rise but the higher taxes on handsets opened the door of imports through grey channels, smuggling or through unauthorised importers costing not only revenue loss to the government but also posing serious threats as these handsets are not registered with the Authority and cannot be traced or monitored through mobile phone networks in case of misuse.
In the consultation document titled “Device Identification, Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS)”, PTA has sought feedback of the stakeholders including mobile handset makers, mobile phone companies and consumers by July 18, 2016 in order to take an initiative as per recently introduced Telecom Policy 2015.