The government has given a go-ahead to GSM operators to provide a new
unique identification number to over 16 million China-made mobile
phones in the country.
Users of these handsets, which don't have the 15-digit International
Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number, will have to shell out about
Rs 180 to obtain the number.
The department of telecom (DoT) had earlier asked telecom operators to
bar services to phones without the IMEI number, citing security
reasons. Many handsets assembled locally or imported from China don't
have IMEI numbers that allow security agencies to trace the location
of the phone user.
The DoT had proposed to bar all mobile phones without IMEI
numbersafter investigations into last year's bomb blasts revealed that
mobile phones used by terrorists didn't bear valid IMEI numbers. But
now with a new software, developed by GSM operators' body Cellular
Operators Association of India (COAI) and Mobile Standards Alliance of
India, users of such handsets could get genuine IMEI numbers and
continue to receive telecom services.
They will have to visit any of the 1600 centres being set up by COAI
across the country to get the software installed on their phones. The
first 10 such centres became operational in Delhi on Monday and the
remaining will be ready in a phased manner.
"We believe that most of these handsets are owned by the masses. Thus,
it would be unfair and unjust to disconnect such customers as they
have bought these handsets unknowingly," COAI director general TV
Ramachandran said. The association has obtained the IMEI numbers from
GSMA, the global body that allocates these numbers