The use of smuggled handsets is quite common in developing countries like Pakistan, because of their lower price points. Since these devices are brought into the country without the knowledge of the government, authorities are unable to track them, verify their safety, or procure tax revenue. Now, the regulatory telecommunications authority in Pakistan has announced that it will block all unregistered handsets in the country after October 20.
In notices published by the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) in local newspapers, it has been revealed that the Device Identification, Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS) has been implemented to track down handsets that are not compliant to the PTA's standards.
Citizens have been asked to verify the compliance of their handset by messaging the device's IMEI number to 8484, or by using the online portal, which surprisingly uses the insecure HTTP protocol by default. Using these two methods will result in the following responses from the PTA:
- Compliant: This means that your device has been legally imported and registered by the PTA.
- Valid: This implies that your device is not registered by the PTA but is approved by the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA). If you use it to send a message or call someone before October 20, it will automatically become compliant and be registered in the PTA's database.
- Non-compliant: These devices are not approved by the GSMA and the PTA, or that they are a duplicate of another handset's IMEI. Such devices will be auto-paired with the SIMs that have been used with it. Owners of these mobile devices will not be able to use them with any other non-paired SIM.
Those who are versed in the Urdu language can check out the detailed official notice in a local newspaper below:
It is important to note that people who do not register their mobile handsets with the PTA will not be able to utilize cellular services such as messaging, calls, and mobile internet after October 20. This will essentially render such devices useless, apart from being able to connect to Wi-Fi internet. It is unclear if people affected by this will be able to appeal their handset's compliance status after the aforementioned date.