India to Phase Out Chinese Handsets by April 13

Cheap Chinese handsets that do not have an International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) - a unique 15-digit identity code - will be phased out from the Indian market by April 13, industry operators said.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) has directed telephone operators to disconnect services to handsets that do not have the IMEI code as such phones pose security threat, a telecom official said Saturday.

IMEI helps the authorities identify the handset used to make a call on the GSM network, while the electronic serial number (ESN) is used for the CDMA network.

Following the DoT directive, telecom operators have already started alerting their customers to stop using illegal handsets.

"Airtel has always been compliant. We will comply with the authorities and bar the services as required," Bharti Airtel deputy chief executive Sanjay Kapoor told IANS.

Gurdeep Singh, chief executive of another telecom operator Aircel, said, "We will follow the timeline and have already intimidated our customers regarding the same. Though our customers are important, compliance is the topmost priority."

Earlier, the DoT had extended the deadline for telecom operators to disconnect services to Chinese handsets from March 1 to March 31.

Now it has further been extended to April 13.

Telecom officials said this time they would stick to the deadline.

The government's move came after investigating agencies found that terrorists have been using non-IMEI mobile phones for their communications.

The decision would affect nearly 2.5 crore handsets, with most of them being Chinese-made.

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