Chinese phones go into silent mode

The IMEI effect

Chinese phones go into silent mode

 
Not many takers for Chinese handsets in BangaloreThe government’s stand was fully supported by all the leading service providers.
Effectively, Chinese companies producing non-IMEI handsets, which are sold cheap, have been prevented from moving up the value chain of manufacturing in India.

The China-manufactured mobile phones, which had flooded the Indian market, have sleek lines and some come with touch-screen technology that make them indistinguishable from the familiar, high-end brands. But a majority of these handsets do come with the vital IMEI.

According to estimates, 21 million handsets are in circulation without the 15-digit unique identity number which enables security agencies to trace calls made from or received on such handsets.

So when leading operators like Airtel, Vodafone and others acted in accordance with the government’s fiat issued some weeks back, non-IMEI handsets simply turned into nothing more than gadgets to play games with.

Services discontinued

Millions of mobile subscribers owning handsets without the IMEI number saw services discontinued by operators who confirmed they have started disconnecting those lines.

In Bangalore, the market for Chinese handets seems to have faded out long time back. City-based dealers were seen marketing Indian handsets with warranty as a replacement for the knockoff phones.

Vodafone Essar Director T V Ramachandran said: “We are disconnecting all those phones which are through the non-IMEI.” No operator, however, put a number on how many users were disconnected from their respective networks, but sources said it would certainly run into a few millions.

A Reliance Communications official said, “When the company introduced its GSM service the non-IMEI phones were already banned. We may not have any connections which are through non-IMEI phones, and as per our older license Reliance Telecom connections, the number of such connections could be minimal and we will disconnect those phones.”

“There was ready market for the Chinese handsets four to six months back. But with the IMEI number problem we have stopped selling them,” said one dealer at Dubai Plaza. Each dealer would sell four to six mobiles a month with handsets costing anywhere between Rs 3,000 and Rs 8,000.

Despite requests from the GSM mobile operators, Cellular Operators Association of India , and the operators themselves, the government refused to relax the November 30 deadline for severing services to non-IMEI handsets.

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