TRAI seeks ban for mobile phones with fake IMEI

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to ask government to halt imports of handsets with fake International Mobile Equipment Identity numbers, which pose national security threat.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said it plans to ask the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to ban imports of mobile phones with fake International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers, saying these devices could be a threat to national security.

In a report by the Press Trust of India (PTI) Sunday, a TRAI official said imports should only be allowed for devices certified by the GSM Association (GSMA) and Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) for GSM and CDMA handsets, respectively.

IMEI numbers are unique 15-digit identification codes assigned to handsets, which are displayed on an operator's network whenever calls are made. TRAI's move aims to stem the proliferation of handsets with duplicate or cloned IMEI numbers, which are dangerous for national security amid concerns over terrorism in India, the report said.

The report said the Indian government has banned services on mobile handsets with invalid or fake IMEI numbers since 2009. However, a test conducted in one region revealed more than 18,000 handsets with the same IMEI number.

The TRAI official said cloning of GSM IMEI numbers was rampant, while CDMA handsets were negligible. He added that importers of such handsets should be required to provide certificates issued by GSMA or TIA when they ship their consignments into India.


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