From December 1, more than 25 million subscribers of mobile telephone services who use Chinese handsets without International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers, will not be able to make or receive calls.
The government had set a deadline of November 30 for implanting IMEI numbers on their handsets through 2,000 centres set up by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) throughout the country.
IMEI is a number unique to every GSM phone. It is generally printed inside the battery compartment of the phone. The IMEI number is used to identify and trace owner of a phone. This is primary requirement of security agencies in view of threat from terrorists. Hence the government is making it mandatory for operators to disconnect all phones without IMEI numbers.
“I have been using my Chinese phone that is without IMEI number for last two years,” said Vinay Tyagi, an executive in a Ghaziabad-based firm. “For last one year I have been reading in the newspapers that my phone would be disconnected. Nothing has happened till date. I do not think my phone would stop working from tomorrow.” There are many other consumers, especially in rural area who are not as much aware.
“These handsets should have never come to India. They are a threat to consumers, industry and national security,” said Pankaj Mohindroo, national president, Indian Cellular Association (ICA).