The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) began blocking unregistered mobile phones in the country Wednesday morning.
The drive against counterfeit and smuggle phones began as scheduled despite the Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology recommending that the drive be extended by 10 days.
Earlier, the authority had announced that it would block all non-compliant devices after January 15. The automatic system began operating Wednesday morning.
If you have purchased a branded (packed) phone from the market, it will be duty paid. In that case, you don’t have to worry because when you insert your SIM or connect with a network for the first time, your phone is registered automatically. However, if you have bought a Chinese phone of an unknown brand or unpacked phone, also known as kits in the local market, your device will be blocked. To get it unblocked, you will have to pay a fine equal in value to 10% of the customs duty on the given handset.
This move will mainly affect new unregistered phones coming into the country after today.
In October, the PTA had said it would block all mobile phones whose International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number is not registered with it till October 20. The deadline was extended till December 31 after public backlash and panic.
The government has formed this policy to curb smuggling of mobile phones that evade taxes by using one IMEI number for multiple (read hundreds of thousands) mobile phones.
The IMEI is a unique code given to your mobile by its maker just like the vehicle identification number. The government uses this number to identify a valid phone on a network (Jazz, Telenor or Zong for example) and can block the handset’s access to the network. If the PTA blocks your mobile phone’s IMEI number, you cannot use it on any mobile network in Pakistan—the phone will simply not function.