Chinese mobiles to go silent from November 30

GSM phones required to have IMEI


The Department of Telecom (DoT) has asked operators to reject calls coming from handsets without IMEI number or those with fake IMEI number.

According to rules, all GSM phones are required to have a unique IMEI number that is accepted by mobile towers. The number is also used to identify calls. However, some mobiles, mainly those manufactured in China, show a series of zeroes or fake IMEI number at the towers.

With the security agencies finding it tough to track mobile phones without IMEI number, the Union Home Ministry has alerted the government to a possible threat from the users of such phones. It also suspects that handsets without IMEI number could be used for terrorist and other subversive activities. The ministry has asked DoT to discourage the public from using such fake mobiles.

About 25 million mobile handsets are currently being used in India. They include non-branded handsets—most of them Chinese—bought from the grey market. The exact number of handsets without IMEI number is still not known. The DoT has asked the handset makers to submit their compliance report by December 15.

Earlier, the government had set June 30, 2009, as the deadline for the manufacturers to comply with its security directives on the use of mobile handsets.

To ensure that all cell phones have the unique IMEI number, the Global Systems for Mobile Communications Association (GSMCA) maintains a worldwide data base of genuine numbers. This is activated and updated every 15 days in the equipment identity register of the mobile operators. The IMEI number, which is not on the database of the GSMCA, is considered as fake.

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