ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, PTA, is set to block all the illegal and unregistered mobile devices after October 20, 2018. This was stated by PTA in a text message to mobile users.
The recent measures to block illegal phones has been undertaken after PTA launched the “Device Identification, Registration and Blocking System”, DIRBS, earlier in May 2018.
According to a press release issued by PTA, “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 the first phase, PTA undertook mapping and identification of International Mobile Equipment Identity Number, IMEIs and blocked lost/stolen devices till August 31, 2018. The recent campaign is apparently part of the second phase of the DIRBS implementation in which PTA intends to block all the “non-compliant devices that are not PTA type approved.”
Talking to DRM, many mobile phone users confirmed that they had received a text message from “8484” earlier today stating: “Buy only PTA compliant mobile SIM based devices. Please check status of the IMEI by sending SMS to 8484. Non-compliant devices will not work after 20 Oct 2018.”
When DRM reached out to officials within PTA, they confirmed the authenticity of the message and urged the users to verify their devices with PTA using IMEI.
The IMEI number of the device can be found out by dialing *#06#.
Interestingly, not all mobile users received text messages. Those who received them lamented that they were unable to understand the instructions given to them. “I am unable to understand the exact procedure through which I can verify my device,” remarked one user from Islamabad. Some users noted that the text message did not clearly state how they could find the IMEI number of their device.
In order to get further clarity on why some users received a text message and others did not, DRM tried to get in touch with relevant department within PTA but could not get an official response on this issue.
While the text message does not reveal how one can check the legality of the device, the details are available on the website. According to the website, after retrieving IMEI through *#06# there are three different ways mobile users can verify their devices.
- The users can either send a text message with their IMEI number to 8484.
- The users can go to the website and type IMEI number to check the status.
- The users can download the Device Verification System (DIBRS)-Pakistan app, submit the IMEI through it and verify its status.
According to website, after entering IMEI, if the user is notified that its device is “Complaint”, the user’s device is genuine and no further action is required. If the notification says that its either “valid” or “non-complaint”, it is advised that users should either make a call, send text or use internet using that device to automatically get registered with PTA and become part of the “Complaint” category. In case the status is “blocked”, PTA can be contacted for further guidance.
Talal Raza is a Program Manager at Media Matters for Democracy. He has worked with renowned media organizations and NGOs including Geo News, The Nation, United States Institute of Peace and Privacy International.