Over 25 million mobile phone users who have Chinese handsets without an international mobile equipment identity (IMEI) number won’t have to discard their phones. The industry has jointly developed a software which when uploaded to these handsets will provide the device with a unique number. This comes after a government directive asking all telcos to cut off mobile services to handsets that do not have an IMEI number by January 6, 2009. The government is likely to extend the deadline by another three months to March 31 even as some operators have sought time till July.
In October, the DoT asked telcos to install EIR so that calls with or without IMEI consisting of all zeroes are not processed. This followed investigations by security agencies looking into the bomb blasts in several Indian cities this year which revealed that mobile phones used by terrorists did not bear valid IMEI numbers.
Industry bodies representing Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and the Association of Unified Service Providers of India (AUSPI) — will formally approach the DoT this week seeking an extension, the representatives in these told ET. The industry will inform the DoT that customers who use these cheap Chinese handsets without IMEI numbers will not be able to afford a new handset. The industry therefore wants time to educate these customers to go in for a software update to get a unique identity number for their handsets.
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