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Photo collected from Internet
Photo collected from Internet

150,000 phones registered under one IMEI number in Bangladesh

A smartphone’s IMEI (which stands for International Mobile Equipment Identity) is a unique identifier for each device, similar to a digital fingerprint. Telecom companies use it to enable network connectivity on a SIM card. Additionally, the IMEI number is used to track lost devices or criminals.

However, analysis revealed that at least 150,000 mobile phones in Bangladesh are being used with only one IMEI number registered. Shahed Alam, the chief corporate and regulatory officer at Robi, presented data from the mobile database on Thursday (June 13) at a round table meeting held at the Directorate of Telecommunications in Tejgaon, the capital city of Bangladesh. State Minister Zunaid Ahmed Palak, from the Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications, and Information Technology, was also present as the chief guest.

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The state minister expressed surprise at the information of Robi’s official. Surprisingly, he said, this cannot be accepted at all.

Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Additional Commissioner and Chief of the Detective Branch (DB), Mohammad Harunor Rashid confirmed that the given information is true, we found such incidents from various operations.

Shahed Alam announced that five mobile phone brands are currently very popular in Bangladesh. However, there are more than 150,000 registered handsets with the same IMEI number.

The National Equipment Identification Register (NEIR) is not working properly, which has led to the creation of a guideline for locking mobile devices. However, this guideline is not useful because its terms often contradict each other. For example, if one SIM slot is turned off and the other is turned on, the guideline does not work.

Harunor Rashid said, during our raids, we seized 700 mobile phones that were being made using low quality parts imported from various places, including China. These phones tend to deteriorate after being used for a couple of months. This issue is not limited to mobile phones, as we have also witnessed the same problem with cars. Specifically, there are 29 cars currently in use that have the license plate number “one”.

BTRC Chairman Mohiuddin Ahmed admitted that only around 20,000 mobile phones of a certain brand are registered in their system, while the market has over 1.955 million of those phones. This means the government has only collected VAT-tax from 1% of the phones, with the remaining 99% not paying the tax.
In 2022, police in Meerut, India found more than 13,500 smartphones with the same IMEI number, leading to a security issue. The police have filed a case against the Chinese smartphone maker.

Techradar reported that a Sub Inspector from Meerut Police got his smartphone repaired in September of last year. The repair cost him Rs. 2605. However, after the repair, the phone still showed a system error. He later discovered that the IMEI number of the device had been changed.

After investigation, Cyber cell identified that there were 13,557 different Vivo phones with the same IMEI number operational across the country.

In 2012, 18,000 phones were found using the same IMEI number. In 2017, the government made tampering with IMEI numbers a punishable offense. Last year, over 100,000 stolen phones had the same IMEI number.

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