ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on Friday extended the deadline for its mechanism to counter the spread of substandard mobile phones being smuggled into the country.

PTA launched the Device Identification, Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS) in May and the deadline for phase I of the project was June 29.

Developed by PTA experts over the past few years using indigenous, state-of-the-art technology, DIRBS has two operational phases.

The first phase was to allow the authority a month to 45 days to initiate an awareness campaign across the market, explaining how the new system was designed to work. It also included mapping and identification of IMEIs and blocking of stolen or lost devices.

All non-compliant devices are to be blocked in the second phase.

These are devises that are not registered with the Global System for Mobile Association and may be mass produced by manufacturers who do not comply with international standards of production, resulting in the infiltration in the market of counterfeit, possibly hazardous, mobile phones.

The authority said this system has been developed to identify sub-standard, fake and illegally imported mobile phones, register and block non-compliant devices on mobile phone networks.

“This unique system will curb illegal imports and facilitate legitimate device importers, and mobile device users. In short, DIRBS and its successful implementation will benefit the entire mobile ecosystem of Pakistan,” a PTA statement says.

The authority has said that following the requests of various stakeholders and in interest of ensuring smooth implementation, the deadline for phase-I has been extended to Aug 30, 2018.

Phase-II shall start on Aug 31, 2018 and no further extension shall be granted thereof.

Full blocking shall be implemented for all non-compliant devices that are not PTA type approved during phase-II.

PTA has said that customers who have already purchased handsets abroad will have to register them in Pakistan by logging onto PTA’s DIRBS website.

The consumer will then be able to operate their handset after filling in basic details such as their CNIC numbers, the IMEI of the handsets and the country it was purchased in.

With the DIRBS now operational, mobile phone users can text IMEI numbers to the PTA’s short message service (SMS) at 8484 to make sure handsets comply with PTA regulations.

This new service will be particularly helpful for consumers when purchasing new phones — immediately double-checking if the device in question is counterfeit or is a stolen product.

All compliant and non-complaint mobile devices prior to the launch of the DIRBS, however, are exempt.

Published in Dawn, June 30th, 2018

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