Published at: The Independent, February 21, 2019
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Communication (BTRC) will finalise the directives on Equipment Identity Register (EIR) for mobile network operators (MNOs) in Bangladesh.
BTRC has taken the move to bring illegal mobile handsets under its surveillance. Once the process starts, any SIM other than the one specified with a particular handset will no longer work on it.
In this regard, the telecom watchdog had taken opinions from stakeholders and also held consultations with the general public till January 20. The commission is now analysing the findings and then finalise the directives, BTRC officials said.
The objective of EIR systems is to describe and define the processes of mobile device registration and access control using MNOs network and communication between EIR and NEIR.
As per a draft directive on EIR, mobile phone users will have to register their handsets with the system. Any unregistered handset will not work, thereby significantly curbing illegal activities in the handset market, it added.
BTRC chairman Jahirul Haque said, “Devices will be registered in NAID with IMEIs, serial number, type approval (brand, model number, various attributes) by the importers, manufacturers and/or individual users according to the BTRC directives.”
According to the draft guidelines, operators will create this database with the IMEI numbers of all mobile handsets as per their licence policy. There will be three categories—black, white and grey—in the database.
Under the draft guidelines, “white” means all types of legally imported handsets, legally made handsets in the country and registered handsets of BTRC.
“Grey” refers to suspicious mobile handsets. These will work on specific SIMs, but the operators will be warned about these handsets.
“Black” will denote IMEI numbers of stolen handsets, expired IMEI and fake IMEIs.
The guidelines also state that some numbers will be registered as VIPs, so that the filtering process can be overridden at the special instruction of the government.
According to the policy, handsets that are cloned, illegal and fake, illegally imported but currently operating on a mobile network, may be registered according to the operator’s SIM.
These handsets will be on the “grey” list. The owners of such sets will be given the opportunity to register their handsets within a deadline specified by BTRC.
On 19 June 2017, after taking the initiative to set up the NEIR, the commission at its meeting in December last year constituted a committee to prepare a draft policy for this purpose. A BTRC official said the prevention of illegal handsets and national security issues were acquiring importance here.
According to the draft policy, the mobile operators themselves will register the handsets that are in use on its network, through which it can access information like the unique IMEI numbers of handsets, SIM numbers and national ID cards.
While the customers will not be inconvenienced by the regulations at present, they will face problems when switching devices at a later date: they must provide proof of purchase of the handset to the operator for it to work.
Up to three handsets can be brought tax-free from abroad. The handsets must be registered at the customer service centre of the mobile operator by showing proof of purchase. On the other hand, no other SIM will work in the stolen handsets if its original user raises a claim with proper documents.