India to unplug 25m non-IMEI phones

Dylan Bushell-Embling
Daily News

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 Timessaid.

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.

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