IMEI verification law to hurt mobile importers

FBR directs customs officials not to clear consignments of cellular phones if the importer does not submit the design and IMEI details to PTA
IMEI verification law to hurt mobile importers

KARACHI: The makers in China only give International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers to importers of more than 5,000 pieces of one model of any mobile handset, thus small importers of this trade will be affected badly by recent decision of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Daily Times learnt on Saturday.
Recently, the telecom regulatory authority has directed customs officials not to clear consignments of cellular phones if the importer has not submitted the design and IMEI details to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).
However, the traders have shown grave reservations against the decision terming it distressing for small importers of Chinese made mobile handsets.
As regard of it, Karachi Electronics and Small Traders Association President Muhammad Rizwan said that though decision has been taken in good omen for the country but it will remain unfeasible for small importers to cooperate with FBR, as the Chinese manufacturers do not provide the IMEI number to importers of less than 5,000 pieces of one model. 
He said that in China many small manufacturers of mobile handsets do not obtain the IMEI number from Spain-based Global System of Mobile Association (GSMA). Resultantly, importers of less than 5,000 pieces of one mobile model will face a lot of trouble.
He said, “We are not against this law, but, before the enforcement of it, all stakeholders should have to be taken on board by PTA and FBR.” He said thousands of people are associated with this trade and besides some big importers majority are small traders. 
The small importers are also helping poor strata of the society by offering cheaper mobile handsets starting from Rs 1,000, said the traders’ leader. However, the superior Chinese made phone selling companies’ prices start from Rs 2,500, he added.
Only big players of the industry can follow the orders, in that situation, when small importers have compelled to discontinue their businesses, the mobile phone prices will increase, he added. 
Due to the decision, the import dealings including clearance of consignments will take more time, consequently, traders will suffer losses owing to slow pace of business procedures, Rizwan said.
On the other hand, biggest industry player of this trade, Q Mobile’s Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Zeeshan Qureshi, while replying to a query said, “We welcome this sensible decision of the government as it will really help to reduce the rising crime ratio.”
He said that the government should have taken this decision much time ago. The cellular phone without IMEI number has become a fatal tool for criminals. “Q Mobile deeply endorses the recently imposed law and is ready to assist the government authorities in any manner which will help to restore peace,” said Qureshi.
It’s important to mention here that the IMEI number is used by the network to identify valid devices and therefore can be used to stop a stolen phone from accessing the network. 
For example, if a mobile phone is stolen, the owner can call his or her network provider and instruct them to ‘ban’ the phone using its IMEI number. This renders the phone useless, whether or not the phone’s SIM is changed.
Unlike the Electronic Serial Number or CDMA and other wireless networks, the IMEI is only used to identify the device, and is not related to the subscriber. Instead, the subscriber is identified by transmission of an International Mobile Subscribers Identity number, which is stored on a SIM card that can (in theory) be transferred to any handset. However, many networks and security features are enabled by knowing the current device being used by a subscriber.

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