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30 Million Handsets Could Be Shut-Down in India by Mid-April
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India's mobile phone networks have agreed to an aggressive 10-day deadline to disconnect all mobile phones which either do not have a unique IMEI serial number, or use Chinese style blank IMEIs. The regulator ordered the clampdown citing security concerns following recent terrorist attacks in the country.

There have been previous claims that as many as 30 million phones could be affected by this directive - representing around 8% of the total subscriber base.

The IMEI is supposed to be both 15-digits in length, and unique to the handset. Recent reports have claimed that the operators are detecting up 1,000 handsets all sharing the same serial number. Although the serial number does not affect the billing, which is managed by SIM identities, it does add an extra layer of proof for the police if checking who made a phone call from a specific handset. As the IMEI is transmitted when a handset connects to the mobile network, access by that handset can be blocked by the network operator - a facility which is often used to prevent stolen handsets being reused with a replacement SIM card.

The operators were ordered to block the errant handsets earlier this year, but little progress was made resulting in the mandate from the Department of Telecommunications to step up the programme. The operators are trying to contact the users of handsets which will be blocked to advise them of the issue.

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