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
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
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
. The subscriber can also register a complaint with
Police-15 or City Police Liasion CommitteeÃ¢??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.
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.
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