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Why IMEI code is a must for your mobile

Last updated on: November 19, 2009 17:38 IST

Why IMEI code is a must for your mobile

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Rediff Business Desk

Does your mobile phone have the IMEI code? You are in trouble if it doesn't, as the telecom ministry has asked operators to disconnect mobile phones without the IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number from December 1.

Concerned over the threat to national security, the Department of Telecom has asked operators to crack down on illegal and China-made cheap handsets, which do not bear any IMEI code. It is estimated that there are about 25 million handsets without IMEI number.

In the wake of increasing terror attacks, India has already banned the import of both GSM and CDMA mobile handsets that don't carry a unique electronic serial number which helps identify a phone. The import of CDMA mobile phones without an electronic serial number (ESN) is also prohibited now.

The DoT had earlier asked the operators to disconnect services to handsets that do not have this IMEI number by April 15. But operators asked for more time arguing that many customers belong to the lower income groups. They instead suggested implanting a new code that can be tracked.

The government had set two deadlines in the past, giving them ample time and it is unlikely to extend the deadline for compliance further.

But what is this IMEI number? Why is it so critical? Click NEXT to read on further. . .


Image: A girl from the Dhimal tribe, one of India's smallest tribal communities, talks on her mobile phone.
Photographs: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters
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What is an IMEI number?

The International Mobile Equipment Identity is a unique 17- or 15-digit code used to identify an individual mobile phone. The IMEI number identifies a specific mobile phone being used on a mobile network. It is like the registration number of a vehicle.

The GSM Association maintains a worldwide database of genuine IMEI numbers. This is activated and updated every 15 days in the Equipment Identity Register of the mobile operators' networks.

What are the uses of the IMEI code?

The IMEI helps to prevent a stolen handset from accessing any network. The IMEI allows lawful interception. It allows security agencies to track down users.

The IMEI number appears on the operators' network whenever a call is made. The DoT has asked the service providers to equip networks with Equipment Identity Register (EIR) to check whether calls are made from genuine handsets.

If you know the IMEI code of a mobile phone, you can get details on the manufacturer, model type, date and country of approval.

What else does the IMEI code help with? Read on. . .


Image: IMEI code helps you.

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Why IMEI code is a must for your mobile

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How can the IMEI help to block a stolen mobile phone?

If a mobile phone is stolen, the owner can call the network provider and ask them to ban the phone using its IMEI number. This makes the phone useless, even if the SIM card is changed.

How does the IMEI help security agencies?

Security agencies have informed DoT the presence of multiple Invalid IMEI on handsets while intercepting calls made by terrorists. By using the IMEI number, the security agencies not only can block the handset, but also retrieve call details from the recovered handset.

If my phone does not have an IMEI number, does it mean I will have to throw it away?

No, not necessarily. Read on further to find out what you can do. . .

 


Image: IMEI can help block a stolen phone.

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Why IMEI code is a must for your mobile

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Can you get an IMEI code if you don't have one on your handset now?

The Cellular Operators Association of India has tied up with Mobile Standard Alliance of India to set up 1,600 retail outlets across the country to provide IMEI number on handsets.

People who have Chinese handsets without a valid IMEI number can get it by paying Rs 199 by November 30.

You can visit any of the retail outlets set up by the COAI with your identity proof. Your photograph will be taken at the service centre. It takes about half an hour to get this code.

Read on to find out how you can check if the number is authentic or not. . .


Image: Pay Rs 199 to get a IMEI number.

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Why IMEI code is a must for your mobile

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How can you check if the code is genuine?

You can check it easily. Dial *#06#

A 15-digit number will be displayed on your handset.

To validate the IMEI, SMS IMEI followed by the 15-digit IMEI number to 53232 and get the answer.


Image: Check your IMEI code.

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