The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has decided to create a central database of mobile phone IMEI numbers in a bid to track criminals who are using illegally-imported handsets.
IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) is a 15-digit unique code given to every single mobile phone, typically found behind the battery. IMEI numbers of cellular phones connected to the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) network are stored in a database containing all valid mobile phone equipment.
When a phone is reported stolen or is not type approved, the number is marked invalid.
The BTRC made the decision to introduce the system after receiving stakeholder approval at a recent meeting.
Industry insiders said once the database is created, the whole security system will come under a single platform, assisting law enforcers in their search for criminals.
According to law enforcement agencies, heightened security measures have forced many criminals into using illegally-imported handsets in order to evade arrest while carrying out their crimes.
A centrally-controlled IMEI database will help the agencies to locate these mobile devices.
A BTRC official, preferring to anonymous, said: “The authorities want to launch a system soon to register IMEI numbers, but we cannot certainly say when it will be launched.”
The government has acted on mobile-phone oriented crime before, introducing a biometric SIM registration process last year. Around the same time, State Minister for Posts and Telecommunications Tarana Halim announced plans to start the IMEI registration process.
Transsion Bangladesh Chief Executive Officer Rezwanul Haque: “The database will help us a lot when we verify which handsets are genuine.”
Bangladesh Mobile Phone Importers Association (BMPIA) have also been urging the authorities concerned to take measures to register IMEI codes.
According to the BMPIA, around 20% of all handsets are smuggled into the country through illegal means. However, only 30% of the estimated 30 million handsets in the country are smartphones.