Don’t Underestimate The IMEI

News reports have suggested that in the recent terrorist attacks on Mumbai,the attackers were allegedly using Chinese cell phones. This was recnetly proven in court using the handsets’ IMEI numbers, which where cross checked against the manufacturer’s records. Whenever a call is made from any handset, it’s unique 16-digit IMEI number appears on the service provider’s network logs, and it can use this number to pin-point the handset’s location within a one killometer radis.

Imported phones without IMEI Numbers(or which all use the same one) were allowed to operate on Indian Networks till earlier this year, but the government’s department of telecommunications banned them earlier this year. such phones can be used to get away with serious crimes, but there are also thousands of genuine users who brought these phones because they are so cheap. The ban makes their phone useless, but from a business point of view it also affects to importers of the Chinees and Taiwanese cell phones have been flooding the Indian Markets.

Current Statics Show that there are 25 millione cell phones in use on Indian network which do not report IMEI Numbers.So these phones, which are often cheap knockoffs of genuine cell phone brands, might have been really tempting for the masses, they are a major concern for security. Regardless, they are still available in markets scatters across all towns and cities in India.

In Order to get a quick idea of the status of these phones, i headed out Majestic Market, one of the Bangalore’s biggest source of imported electronics. Coincidentally, on my way there, the bus driver was watching Doordarshan on his “TV Phone” resting on dashboard. His Phone could not only be used for watching a cricket match,but could make calls, exchange SMSes, transfer files via Bluetooth,play MP3 Files, take photos and basically do everything that a multimedia phone is capable of. Driver has paid only around Rs 5,000 for the gadget. He did’n even get a bill for it. I’d be least surprised if this TV Phone did not have a valid IMEI number. On reaching the Market i saw phones from random and uncommon brand, cheap knockoffs of genuine and popular brand, and finally genuine second-hand phones. The first category was the most interesting, were we saw the brand name like YXTEL, CLOVE, TOP-1, LXD and some simply had ‘Bluetooth’ printed on them. These have completely unique designs, unusual keypads and usually larg tuch screens. the most striknig things about these phones in value for money they offer.They might not be very usable or refined but the mejority of them are priced between Rs.2,500 and Rs5,000. A ‘Hi-Phone’-an Apple iPhone knockoff-is available for as little as Rs.4,500, with most of the features in it, including a somewhat functional tuch interface. Phone as cheap as Rs2,500 also includes features such as video recording, FM radio, large screen, Bluetooth, games, unique design, loude speaker, MP3 player and above all good call and sound quality.

The shopekeepers also mostly insist that the phones have IMEI numbers-although whether these are valid and unique cannot be proven. More importently , these phones don’t have reguler software they use their own OSes(Often Simple Java Interface) and therefore installing regular application will usually not be possible. They dont offer any worrany or support, no bill and no service centers. Most of these phones can be bought without any paperwork and no quastion are asked.

    • Aniket Roy
    • December 1st, 2009

    Ya Thats True!!!!
    and govt should take good action abou it

    • Vijay Kamble
    • December 1st, 2009

    Dear Arpit,
    you have written on fabulous topic this is really sounding good.
    Keep it on

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