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China mobiles: Beware of illegal IMEI implants
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If you have a Chinese mobile handset and plan to get a genuine IMEI number implanted to make it work, beware. It may work initially, but will get disconnected within 2-3 days. For, the Genuine IMEI Implant programme which ended on November 30 will not be revived by the Department of Telecommunications. But, an illegal racket is still offering IMEI numbers for Chinese-make handsets.

For starters, as per a government notification, Chinese handsets without genuine IMEI numbers went dead on November 30. However, authorised GII providers are still providing IMEI numbers. Worse, some are charging exorbitant prices between Rs 300 and Rs 500, though the price fixed was Rs 200.

GII providers display a mail supposedly sent by Cellular Opertors Association of India deputy director general TR Dua. It reads: “Request you to kindly refer to the latest directive of DoT on the above mentioned subject dated 27th November 2009 (Copy of the directive enclosed ). As per the directive, operators are requested to bar / reject calls from handsets bearing non-genuine IMEI number / no IMEI /all zeros. The directive does not put an end on the GII programme. The same is for your information ready reference. We are also seeking written clarification from DoT in the matter.’’

However, mobile Standard Alliance India president Ashwini Budhiraj told TOI it was illegal to implant any IMEI numbers. “MSAI has to prescribe standards for mobile services in consultation with DoT. COAI does not have a locus standi on the issue. Once the government said GII has come to an end, that’s final. Handsets getting IMEI implanted now may work for two days, but will be deactivated again,’’ he added.

The trouble started when Chinese handsets with multiple IMEI numbers, multiple handsets having same mobile numbers and all zero IMEI numbers, started becoming a security threat. Underworld operators and terrorists started using these handsets, posing a problem for investigating agencies which track calls through IMEI numbers.

A conservative estimate put the number of handsets yet to come under the GII programme at 2.1 crores.

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