The telecom operators make take the decision to disconnect 25 million mobile phones early next year due to concerns about the growing terrorist threat. The department of telecom (DoT) has asked service providers to disconnect handsets that do not have an international mobile equipment identity (IMEI) number. IMEI is a unique 15-digit code that identifies a mobile. It prevents the use of stolen handsets for making calls and allows lawful interception to prove the use of a particular device.
The IMEI number appears on the operator’s network whenever a call is made. DoT has asked the service providers to equip networks with Equipment Identity Register (EIR) to check whether calls are made from genuine handsets. “In the interest of national security, all cellular mobile service providers with unified access service licences (UASL) are hereby directed to make provisions for EIR so that calls without IMEI or with IMEI consisting of all zeroes are not processed or rejected. Also If switches do not have such a facility, the necessary hardware and software should be put in place within three months of the issue date of this letter and compliance reported,” ” DoT said in a letter to operators on October 6.
A top official at a telecom firm said the move will affect customers who unknowingly bought mobiles without IMEI or whose numbers have been duplicated by others. “The duplicate devices currently being used will not last beyond two-three years. The way out is to check imports to stop entry of handsets without genuine IMEI into India,” he added.
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