Illegally imported mobile handsets or handsets with fake International Mobile Equipment Identification (IMEI) numbers cannot be used in the country after early next year as the national telecom regulator is adopting a technology which will restrict the SIM cards of such handsets.
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has been working to launch the technology for several years as a part of its move to crack down on illegal imports and duty evasion.
"The government has been communicating this message for a while -- it was due to be wrapped up by October this year, but was delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak," informed Zakir Hossain Khan, senior assistant director (Media), BTRC.
"Tendering process for the software solution is almost done and will be implemented by early next year. Since the tendering was done in a closed manner we cannot disclose who is developing the software," he added.
"Illegal phones which have been purchased to date will fall under this policy when it is implemented. Buyers should be wary of buying phones which were imported through unofficial channels (without paying tax)," the BTRC official added.
Earlier in July, 2019, the telecom watchdog issued a public notice in this regard and asked handset buyers to check whether their mobile device's unique IMEI numbers are registered with the BTRC.
According to BTRC, as many as 118.22 million IMEI numbers were added to a database over the last three years in consultation with phone importers, operators and Bangladeshi mobile manufacturers.
If an IMEI is found to be unregistered, then the number is either fake or a copy and was therefore brought into the country illegally, according to the regulatory body.
One can find the 15-digit IMEI number of one's handset by dialling *#06# and the number will flash on the screen.
To check whether the set is registered or not, once can send a message to the BTRC's short code 16002 with the text: KYD followed by the 15-digit IMEI number.
On January 22 last year, the BTRC launched the mobile handset online database and since then all legally imported and assembled sets are being registered on their database.
About 30 percent of the 10 crore mobile handsets currently in use in Bangladesh have been imported illegally till last year, according to officials of the BTRC.