Mobile phone users can register or deregister their devices online under the National Equipment Identity Register (NEIR) system once the mechanism is set up.
"Individuals can be allowed to register their own devices they basically buy from abroad and intend to use them in our country," according to a draft technical specification for the entities to set up the NEIR system which was released on Tuesday.
According to the draft technical specification for supply, implementation and operation of National Equipment Identity Register (NEIR) system, a user can unbound all of his SIMs with that device and withdraw his ownership in case of ownership change or any other legal purposes.
When a device requests for network access with a valid SIM and NID, the system will check if that device is already bound with other SIMs registered against different NIDs.
The specification said an SMS will be sent to the previous owner to initiate the deregistration process or to lodge a complaint.
"Without deregistration, the system will not allow binding a device with SIMs registered against multiple NIDs unless the device is allowed to do so by the authority."
The NEIR system will create an online portal to enable users to get its facilities like registration, device blocking, and complaint generation etc.
The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) wants to make the NEIR system functional by the end of this year.
NEIR is a central platform which is fundamentally a system to control the access permission of a mobile device into the network after necessary device verification.
It will maintain International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI), Mobile Station International Subscriber Directory Number (MSISDN), and National Identity (NID) etc of all mobile devices and its users and will be connected with all Mobile Network Operator Equipment Identity Registers (MNOEIRs) and other related stakeholders.
At present, neither the government nor the mobile phone operators or the mobile phone importers have any tool to check use of illegally imported handset, which is causing around Tk 10 billion losses to the government and eroding sales of handsets imported by legal importers, according to industry insiders.
The telecom regulator's move to introduce an NEIR system came more than a year after it took the decision to install the system under a project.
Through the NEIR system, BTRC will be able to check illegal activities in regard to mobile devices, clone/illegal handset, stolen handsets, categorising users etc.
Earlier in October 2017, the telecom regulator as per instructions from the then state minister for posts and telecommunications initiated a move to install the NEIR system.
Later on, the telecom regulator following instructions from immediate-past telecommunication minister Mustafa Jabbar initiated the move to install the NEIR system by issuing licence to a third party.
The minister instructed the telecom regulator to issue licence for the installation of the NEIR system since it feared that the detailed project proforma process would take much time in this regard.
NEIR would preserve international mobile equipment identity to make it easier to extract information about legally imported or locally manufactured headsets, officials of BTRC said.
The system would help block illegal equipment, mainly consisting of mobile handsets, from flooding the market and this would help the government realise a higher amount of revenue, thus boosting sales of legally imported handsets.
Besides, it would allow prevention of trading in stolen handsets, paving the way for tightening security measures.
According to a recent statement of Bangladesh Mobile Phone Importers Association, import of mobile handsets in Bangladesh dropped by 17.85 per cent in 2018 compared to the same period last year due to a boom in handset sales in the grey market.
Illegally imported handsets have already grabbed more than 30 per cent share of the handset market worth around Tk 30 billion, causing more than Tk 10 billion revenue losses to the government, severely impacting the authorised importers and manufacturers, said mobile handset importers.
Besides the move to install the NEIR system, the telecom regulator has been implementing another project on setting up an international mobile equipment identity database that would help customers check whether any handset was imported legally or not.
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