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PTA-System Curbing mobile phone theft; PTA's remarkable ventures System has been launched from Sept 30 to block stolen mobile sets Last Updated (Thursday, 02 November 2006)

ISLAMABAD, Sep 25: With the growing trend of technical gadgets the concerns of safety are being felt by users - it used to be Personal Computer (PC) which often fall victim to hackers or viruses.  The next major thing seems to be cell phones which are subject to fraud, and of course an old fashioned crime - stealing.

 

     Telecom sector in Pakistan during last few years has revolutionized emerging as the most progressive country in this area where the number of mobile phone subscribers has reached 40 million and the total tele-density touched 29.3 per cent mark in August 2006.

 

     At the same time competition between ever-increasing groups of mobile service providers has driven down tariffs, with the result that just about anyone and everyone is in possession of a mobile phone. But the growing demand has provided outlaws with an easy avenue for making a quick buck.

 

   In recent months, it seems that mobile phone theft has become the crime of choice of most the outlaws operating in different parts of the country especially in Karachi where 120 such cases are being reported daily on average, but the smooth implementation of anti mobile phone theft system would definitely curb mobile phone theft crimes and provide relief to the consumers.

  

  One should be appreciative of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for facilitating the present telecom sector boom in every possible manner.  The Authority has placed a technical system to curb mobile phone snatching with the help of all cellular mobile operators, City Police Liaison Committee (CPLC), federal and provincial police departments and other government functionaries. The system to block the snatched mobile phone handsets has been implemented from September 30.

 

   The mobile operators have installed Equipment Identity Register (EIR) system which enables a stolen or snatched cell phone to be blocked through its International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) which is a unique number of every cell phone in the world. The IMEI number is used by the GSM network to identify valid devices and, therefore, can be used to stop a stolen phone from accessing the network. Equipment Identity Register (EIR) will block the handset using IMEI number, once the snatching or theft is reported by the consumer.

 

     According to Chairman PTA Maj Gen (R) Shahzada Alam Malik once this system starts functioning, the magnitude of mobile phone snatching will decrease significantly.  He said PTA has also developed a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) which has been given to all concerned including the mobile phone operators to streamline the reporting of stolen or snatched cell phones. Furthermore, the Authority has launched a comprehensive awareness campaign to educate the telecom users about the reporting of snatched or stolen mobile phones, he said.

A subscriber can dial *#06# to get IMEI number of a mobile set. The consumer, after retrieving the IMEI number, must keep it somewhere saved so that in the event of loss of his cell phone he can register a complaint through this IMEI number which is mandatory information to be provided by the consumer while reporting an incident. The reporting procedure is kept simple and for this purpose PTA has established a toll-free help line - 0800-25625 where users can register such cases. The subscriber can also send an email to PTA at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . The subscriber can also register a complaint with Police-15 or City Police Liasion Committeeâ??s (CPLC) Offices.  

 

     Before registering a complaint, the consumer will make sure the mobile phone connection is in his/her own name and will provide IMEI number along with SIM number (phone number), national ID card number, address and contact number. The system will block the handset and it cannot be re-used, thus discouraging the snatching of mobile phone sets. The Authority will also ensure that all mobile companies update their database of stolen mobile sets which will be shared by all provinces.

 

     The Authority is also formulating different rules and policies to take into account crimes related to IT and Telecom. Meanwhile, the subscribers have welcomed the introduction of new system to curb snatching of cell phones. The credit goes to the regulator for convincing the cellular phone operators and setting-up the system which would definitely check mobile phone snatching, said Aamir Sajjad, who is using mobile phone since 1995. This is a good initiative. The success of this system depends on the implementation and the awareness and education of the users; he said and commended PTA for focusing on these important factors.

  

     Another subscriber Khurram Shehzad Bhatti said, had this system got in place few years back, less people would have lost their phone sets! But better late than never.This new technology is supposed to make it tougher for snatchers to sell off stolen handsets, thus discouraging them from snatching mobile phones. The customers also have an important role to play in reducing mobile phone theft. The greater PTA's idea of awareness and knowledge about mobile phone security among people will also help reduce such theft.

 

     The unprecedented PTA's efforts to protect consumer interests will certainly give further boost to country's telecom sector and open up more promising investment avenues for companies operating in Pakistan.

 

 

By Shahid Ali Butt

 
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