Phones from the grey market can now land you in trouble as telecom operators have started informing subscribers that services to cellphones without a valid international mobile equipment identity number will soon be disconnected.
Concerned over the national security, the Department of Telecom (DoT) had asked operators to disconnect services to handsets that do not have an international mobile equipment identity (IMEI) number.
IMEI is a unique 15 digit code that identifies a mobile. It prevents the use of stolen handsets for making calls and allows lawful interception to prove the use of a particular device.
The IMEI number appears on the operators' network whenever a call is made. DoT had asked the service providers to equip networks with Equipment Identity Register (EIR) to check whether calls are made from genuine handsets.
The service providers have been given a deadline of March 31, 2009, to comply with the order. One of the leading telecom service provider has already started sending out messages to their subscribers to use phones with IMEI number or face disconnection.
Indian Cellular Association (ICA), the industry body for handset makers, said the government should also impose restrictions at the point of import of mobile devices without IMEI number.