Chinese mobile phones that have flooded the Indian market have gone on to occupy almost 15 to 20 percent market share of India’s handset market. Cute looks and advanced multi-media features at cheap rates have made Chinese mobile phones a much sought after product in the mobile phone market in India.
But now there can be a major setback to it, with the Indian Government’s proposed ban of Chinese phones due to lack of IMEI code. An IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity Code) which is unique with every mobile consists of 15 digits. When the SIM card in a mobile phone gets activated, the IMEI number gets automatically registered with the GSM service provider and it becomes possible to find out the caller’s identity and the location from where the call was made, which will be helpful to the Security agencies.
Most of the China made mobile phones available in the market these days do not have a genuine International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number. Hence the chances of these phones being misused for anti-social activities are very high. Since mobile phones without IMEI number are big security hole and also recently, the mobile phones used by terrorist had no IMEI numbers. Telecom department is working upon the issue and we may soon see the ban on calls made by Chinese phones. Telecom Dept has also asked mobile vendors to stop selling Chinese Phones.
However, according to a recent Economic Times report, the Government is planning to extend the deadline until March 31, 2009, as the industry has developed a software that can assign an IMEI number to these phones with the help of a software update.
In October, the DoT (Department of Telecommunications) had asked companies to store IMEI numbers in their Equipment Identity Register (EIR) databases. EIR is used to ensure that calls made from a stolen handset having a unique IMEI can be traced and blocked – rendering it useless. The same technology can be used to identify cell phones that lack an IMEI or just have a couple of zeroes for the IMEI number to effectively bar calls from such handsets. The COAI (Cellular Operators Association of India) is planning to approach the government to seek an extension until the the IMEI assigning software can be added into phones via the update.
The issues under consideration are the large user base for these phones and the fact that the handsets would be rendered useless after implementation of the directive, resulting in a loss to its innocent owners. The COAI is planning a drive to make people aware about the dangers of using a non-IMEI handset and about the software update that is expected to cost Rs. 100 per phone, which is a nominal amount considering it can save a phone from becoming useless.
Ed note- Source- Techtree & Economic Times.