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India to unplug 25m non-IMEI phones
December 01, 2009
Indian operators will today be required to unplug as many as 25 million imported and counterfeit handsets.
The Department of Telecom has ordered all phones without a valid International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number to be pulled off the air.
Handsets without a valid IMEI code - such as gray-market and counterfeit phones - will be unable to make or receive calls, India's Economic Times said.
The Home Ministry had called for the non-standard phones to be denied network access after discovering terrorists who mounted bombing attacks had used devices without valid IMEI numbers.
The DoT yesterday ignored a last-minute appeal from the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI). The industry group had asked for an extension for the cut-off date because most users of non-IMEI phones would be unable to afford a new handset.
Consumers yesterday flocked to outlets capable of implanting IMEI numbers on existing SIM cards – a 10-minute process that costs around 199 rupees ($4.30).
But a COAI spokesperson told the Times that although 1,600 outlets had been set up to complete such a task, the industry would have to process about 25 million phones. India has approximately 490 million mobile phone users.