The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC)’s new initiative to register all handsets in the country is certainly a giant step toward establishing transparency and accountability in the telecommunication sector. It came at the back of completing another similar mammoth task which is the biometric registration of all mobile-phone SIM card holders.
Speaking at the launching ceremony of the National Equipment Identity Register (NEIR) system, the Posts and Telecommunications Minister rightly said that the initiative is a historic milestone for Bangladesh. The country has witnessed a massive advancement in the sector of telecommunication technology. Riding on the back of widespread use of smartphones and other digital gadgets, digital crimes have increased drastically. Besides, crimes committed in the real world can also have a digital footprint thanks to the criminals’ use of technologies. Often we see law enforcement agencies manage to track down criminals by tracing the location of their handsets.So, we think the NEIR system will help the authorities to further solidify their control on the country’s digital landscape. It will enable the authorities to stop illegal import of handsets due to which the country loses thousands of crores of taka in revenue. Moreover, once the system is effectively enforced, crimes like illegal manufacturing and smuggling of handsets, phone cloning, theft and grey market selling can be dealt with to a large extent.
Under the NEIR system, the IMEI of handsets will be registered along with the users’ national identity card and SIM number. All phones that were in use before 30 June this year will be automatically registered against the SIMs inserted in them. According to the Minister, phones that have been bought since 1 July will have to be registered. The registration programme will be conducted experimentally for three months. After that, all illegal or out-of-network unregistered handsets will be deactivated.
So from now on, customers will have to be extra careful while buying mobile phones. One must check the validity of the phone before making a purchase by dialling *#06# to get the handset’s 15-digit IMEI number. And then to check the authenticity of this number, customers need to type KYD<space>15-digit IMEI number in the message box and send it to 16002. A return SMS will confirm whether the device was legally imported or not.