Telecom regulator TRAI is planning to approach the Commerce and Industry Ministry to ban imports of mobile phones carrying inauthentic unique IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) numbers, which help the authorities track users.

“TRAI will soon write to the Commerce Ministry to ban such phones. Import of only those cell phones should be allowed which are certified by GSMA-and TIA-authorised bodies for GSM [Global System for Mobile] and CDMA handsets respectively,” an official told PTI.

The GSM Association and Telecommunications Industry Association are global bodies that provide unique numbers to mobile handset companies.

The move aims to check proliferation of mobile handsets with duplicate or cloned IMEI numbers, which are dangerous for national security.

An IMEI comprises 15-digit codes assigned to a handset and it appears on the operator’s network whenever a call is made. Concerns had been raised over their usage after terror attacks in India.

Cloning issues in the case of CDMA handsets are negligible but rampant in the case of GSM handsets, the official said.

The government has banned services on mobile handsets with fake IMEI numbers after November 30, 2009.

However, according to informed sources, during a test conducted in a telecom service area, government officials were surprised to see over 18,000 mobile handsets using the same IMEI number.

“The idea is to ask importers of handsets to provide a certificate issued by a GSMA or TIA authorised body for entry of his consignment in the country,” the official said.

Mobile phones without the unique security code are making inroads into the grey market by cloning the IMEI numbers of genuine sets.

Through cloning, the IMEIs of bona fide mobile sets can be used by antisocial elements.

More In: National | News