The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on Thursday formally launched a Device Identification, Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS) which will allow for the blocking of stolen and smuggling cellphones, rendering them useless.

According to ProPakistani, the system will ensure that stolen and blocked phones, as well as phones with duplicate or non-standard identifiers are blocked.

PTA Chairman Muhammad Naveed made the announcement as the organisation celebrates crossing a milestone 50 million broadband subscribers.

The PTA chairman touted the acquisition of the DIRBS as a move that will "improve the telecom sector" by helping improve collection of tax and tracking down "illegal devices" in cooperation with law enforcement agencies.

With the launch of the first phase of the DIRBS, cellphone theft and smuggling will be eliminated and service quality will improve, the PTA chairman said, adding that government revenue would also increase in the process.

PTA's Abdul Samad explained that in the first phase, stolen and lost devices would be blocked, while in the second phase devices that are in people's use will be inspected.

Subscribers will also be able to inquire about the status of their devices, he added.

The DIRBS will be linked up to the GSMA database, he said.

Samad also said the government had issued policy directives for the launch of 5G cellphone services on which work is currently underway.

What is the DIRBS?

According to ProPakistani, the purpose of the DIRBS is to ensure that non-compliant cellphones are not imported, sold, advertised or connected to cellular networks in order to protect cellphone user data across the country.

"It will further ensure that mobile licensees actively identify such phones on their networks and maintain and update industry-wide database with information about such phones for the benefit of the mobile services sector worldwide," ProPakistani reported.

"Stolen phones, blocked phones, and phones with duplicate or non-standard identifiers shall be blocked by the mobile network operator (MNO) from use in Pakistan," the report added.

According to a PTA press release, subscribers can verify the authenticity of their cellphone devices by sending an SMS to 8484, and can visit www.dirbs.pta.gov.pk or download the DIRBS Android app from the Google Play Store or App Store.

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