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25 Million Ghost Handsets To Be Given IMEI Numbers

Instead of banning the 25 million handsets which do not have IMEI numbers, the government has decided to fix them by issuing fresh IMEIs obtained from the industry body GSMA. A software to embed these IMEIs onto handsets was developed by Cellular Operators Association of India in collaboration with handset body Mobile Standard Alliance of India, according to a communique.

Are Operators Relieved?

The DoT and IT ministry had announced that handsets without IMEI numbers were to be banned as they were untraceable. With an IMEI (its equivalent for CDMA handsets is called electronic serial number/ESN), operators can trace calls made by and to handsets. With DoT’s order to deactivate all anonymous handsets by April 15th, operators Airtel, Vodafone and BSNL flipped the switch on them, cutting off network connectivity. It is good to know that the government found an alternate to disconnecting millions of handsets. Are operators heaving a sigh of relief? They would have suffered a steep fall in Minutes of Use and ARPUs if such a step had been taken.

Need an IMEI?

Here’s how you can check – dial *#06# on your handset to get your 15-digit IMEI. If they are all zeros or nothing appears, register for an IMEI. Users of grey market “Made in China” handsets will have to register for an IMEI at the 1600 centres being set up by the government.

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Update: We have asked Ashwani Budhiraja, Director General, MSA if operators will, after this program of implanting IMEIs onto mobiles is completed, will be authorised to restart their deactivation of IMEI-less handsets to tackle the security threat. We will bring you his answer so do check back.

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