Mobile handsets with fake International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers will not be able to use Bangladesh’s mobile network after a certain period as the telecom regulator looks to crack down on illegal imports and duty evasion.
Bangladesh Telecommu-nication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has already issued a public notice in this regard and asked the buyers to check whether their mobile device’s unique IMEI numbers are registered with the BTRC.
The telecom regulator has also decided to run a massive campaign to warn the users.
If an IMEI is found to be unregistered, then the number is either fake or a copy and was therefore brought into the country illegally, said Md Zakir Hossain Khan, a senior assistant director of the regulatory body.
The BTRC will have an IMEI database of all the legally imported and locally assembled devices.
“We are not sure about the total number of handsets illegally brought in but the BTRC would start deactivating them after a certain period,” he said.
One can find the 15-digit IMEI number of one’s handset by dialling *#06# and the number will flash on the screen.
To check whether the set is registered or not, once can send a message to the BTRC’s short code 16002 with the text: KYD followed by the 15-digit IMEI number.
On January 22, the BTRC launched the mobile handset online database and since then all legally imported and assembled sets are being registered on their database.
About 30 percent of the 10 crore mobile handsets currently in use in Bangladesh have been imported illegally, according to senior officials of the BTRC.
On the other hand, the handsets industry last year legally imported about 3.5 crore mobile sets worth more than Tk 10,000 crore.
“Some people may face challenges but in the long run this will ensure regulation in the market and the government will get the fair tax from import,” said Ruhul Alam Al Mahbub, president of Bangladesh Mobile Phone Importers Association (BMPIA).
The government has increased the import duty for smartphones in fiscal 2019-20 to 57 percent, so there is a good chance that a large number of handsets will be brought in through the illegal channels.
With this move of the telecom regulator, such possibilities will be in check.
Earlier in January, the BTRC seized 700 handsets that were imported illegally by conducting raids in the capital’s Eastern Plaza and Motalib Plaza.