ISLAMABAD: As per a directive given by the federal government, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has extended the deadline for registration of mobile phones till Jan 15 after which counterfeit and smuggled devices will be blocked.
Earlier, it was announced that the non-compliant devices would not be registered after Dec 31, 2018 and in future only PTA-approved International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) devices would be registered.
The decision has been taken after a number of protests and press conferences by the Mobile Phone Traders Association (MPTA) as the traders claimed that they had already ordered consignments and it was not possible for them to register the IMEIs of second-hand phones.
An official statement issued by the PTA states that the Device Identification Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS) would remain operational and all mobile phones activated on mobile networks within Pakistan by Jan 15 would remain operational without service disruption.
“Even non-compliant devices in operation prior to this date will be tied to these numbers and will remain operational till the useful life of the devices,” it states.
Counterfeit and smuggled devices will be blocked after Jan 15
The PTA has developed the DIRBS in line with Section 9.6 of the Telecom Policy 2015, issued by the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom, with the aim to curtail counterfeit mobile phone usage, discourage mobile phone theft and protect consumer interest, it states.
Mobile phone users wishing to know the status of a device can send the 15-digit IMEI number via SMS to 8484. The status of a mobile phone can also be checked via PTA website link www.dirbs.pta.gov.pk or by downloading DIRBS android application, the statement concludes.
MPTA spokesperson Saleem Rehmat told Dawn that in the past dealers used to import second-hand mobile phones, but a ban was imposed in 1996.
“When the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf came to power, we contacted Finance Minister Asad Umer and told him that since 95 per cent dealers deal in second-hand phones, the ban on their import should be lifted,” he said.
“The minister listened to us and played his role in lifting the ban. Resultantly, the federal cabinet approved lifting of the ban on Nov 23 last year,” Mr Rehmat. “However as some companies wanted to sell their new mobile phones, which were available in the market, the file was deliberately delayed. Finally, a statutory regulatory order (SRO) was issued on Dec 24, 2018, which said that the ban had been lifted.”
The MPTA leader said that the government had already announced that the imported sets, non-compliant to the PTA, would not be activated after Dec 31 last year. On the other hand, a number of dealers had already placed orders to import second-hand mobile phones, he said.
“Therefore, we requested the government to extend the last date for activation of imported sets. Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar made efforts for extending the date for 15 days. We are thankful to the government for the decision,” he said.
Mr Rehmat said the government had fixed similar duty on new and second-hand mobile phones which was unfair, adding that the duty rate should be reconsidered.
Published in Dawn, January 9th, 2019