Page last updated at 11:01 GMT, Thursday, 18 June 2009 12:01 UK

India bans mobiles without 'code'

By Sunil Raman
BBC News, Delhi

Indian labourer using a mobile phone
Mobile sales have grown fast in India

India has banned imports of mobile phones which do not have a unique international identification code.

Cheap mobile handsets without the code and imported primarily from China and Taiwan are popular in India.

Over 25 million such handsets are now in use in India, according to the federal telecom ministry.

Last year, Indian intelligence agencies had said phones without the code were being used by terrorist groups in attacks in the country.


The International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number is a 15-digit code which appears on the operator's network whenever a call is made.

The absence of this number makes it impossible to trace either the caller or the phone. It is also makes it impossible to get call details for these handsets.

Orders to detect handsets without the identification numbers were issued last year but some mobile phone operators asked for more time to identify these phones.

They said the time and software required to identify these phones was time-consuming.

Priced between $60 and $120, the cheap handsets have a big market among rural and semi-urban consumers who want connectivity at cheaper cost.

There are over 380 million mobile phone users in India.

The president of the Indian Cellular Association, Pankaj Mohandroo, has been campaigning against Chinese-made phones for years.

He called the government announcement as a "partial solution" saying the problem of millions of handsets in circulation has not been tackled.

"We have demanded immediate disconnection of services to such mobile phones but that has not happened," he observed.

The government has ordered that no new connections be provided to such handsets.

India has also announced a partial ban on the import of Chinese toys that do not meet international standards until January 2010.

Print Sponsor

Man Utd signs Indian phone deal
08 May 09 |  Business
Reliance enters MTN takeover fray
26 May 08 |  Business
Bharti ends tie-up talks with MTN
25 May 08 |  Business
Telecom boom boosts Bharti Airtel
23 Jan 07 |  Business
Bharti African talks 'continue'
16 May 08 |  Business

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific