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Illegal mobile phones to become unusable from July 16

Officials claim that once the Mobile Device Management System is activated, it will secure—and track—all cell phones in the country.

When the Mobile Device Management System goes into effect on July 16, all mobile phones purchased without a bill or imported into the country without paying customs duty will become inoperable.

According to officials, the Nepal Telecommunications Authority will implement the program from the start of the new fiscal year, which will protect and trace all cell phones in the country in order to avoid misuse and grey market imports.

Purushottam Khanal, chairman of the telecom regulator, stated, “We decided to conduct a soft launch since we noted that the government’s Integrated Data Centre can make real-time inspection of mobile devices’ validity.”

Once the system is implemented, he claims that visitors to Nepal would be allowed to bring only one mobile phone and the purchase bill.

“Customs duty will be imposed on the extra sets if they bring more than one set,” he stated. “The phones, too, will have to be registered.” In Nepal, illegal mobile devices will be prohibited from being used.

Migrant workers and international travelers are currently permitted to have multiple mobile phones with them.

Travelers bringing cell phones will have to register them with the authority starting on Friday by filling out a form.

Individuals importing a device for personal use in accordance with customs regulation will be required to register its International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI), Equipment Serial Number (ESN), and Mobile Equipment Identifier (MEID) with the Mobile Device Management System during the application process, according to the Mobile Device Management System Bylaws 2018.

Mobile users will be notified to register with a notification of denial of service by the operators after 15 days from the first identification of the unregistered set after it is used with SIM or RUIM cards, according to the bylaws.

According to the guideline, the authority may impose a one-time registration charge for any mobile device imported into Nepal, whether by authorised importers or by individuals for personal use.

Importers, customs and law enforcement agencies, mobile operators, the general public, and the Nepal Telecommunications Authority will all have access to the Mobile Device Management System, which will include white, grey, and black lists of IMEI codes.

According to the regulator, it will also be used to monitor illegal activity. The system will allow for the registration of mobile devices, as well as the verification of IMEI, ESN, and MEID numbers, as well as the identification of non-compliant devices.

The Mobile Device Management System will go live on July 16th, according to the budget outline for fiscal year 2021-22.

While presenting the budget, Finance Minister Bishnu Prasad Poudel stated that the new provision would regulate the usage of unlawful mobile phones as well as criminal acts involving mobile phones.

The system is being created at a cost of Rs650 million, according to the telecom regulator.

The system will be linked to the Equipment Identity Register, a database that keeps track of both legal and illegal mobile devices in the country. The device management system should also be able to spot cloned, low-cost knockoffs of branded phones with forged registration numbers.

“It could take a month and a half to get the system fully operational,” Khanal said, adding that the system’s installation would be 95 percent complete by then.

After the Mobile Device Management System Bylaws 2018 were adopted four years ago, the telecom regulatory authority started to construct the system.

Due of Covid-19 and the lockdown, Khanal added, the system’s implementation was delayed because solution providers had to fly in from other nations, and it took a long time for commodities to be released from ports due to the pandemic.

Operators such as Nepal Telecom, Ncell, and Smart Telecom will need to connect their mobile networks to the system, which will be run from a new building in Chabahil.

The authority drafted bylaws for the implementation of the Equipment Identity Register system to ensure national and consumer security, to identify genuine mobile handsets and render fake and non-genuine handsets inoperable in Nepal, to enable tracking or blocking of lost or stolen mobile handsets, and to promote the import and sale of genuine mobile handsets.

If a mobile device is lost or stolen after the system is in place, the owner can apply online to track or prohibit its use with any SIM or RUIM card.

Only those mobile devices that have already been approved by the authority will be released, and the IMEI, ESN, and MEID numbers of imported mobile devices will be registered and checked by the system.

The country imported mobile phones worth Rs34.14 billion in the first 11 months of the current fiscal year, compared to Rs15.74 billion in the same time the previous fiscal year, according to the Department of Customs.

Dealers in mobile phones have long complained about declining sales due to a thriving black market. According to the Nepal Telecommunications Authority, the Mobile Device Management System will bring smartphones under the registration net, making it easier for authorities to monitor them.

Grey market cellphones are brought into the country in hand luggage, primarily from India, and no customs duty is paid on them. According to domestic mobile vendors, many returning travelers often carry phones for their friends and relatives.

Source – The Kathmandu Post

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