GSMA silence over IMEI, TAC issue in India mysterious

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By JAY P GUPTA
New Delhi :Mysterious silence of the GSMA authorities over Indian Mobile Manufacturers’ concerns about dumping of unauthorized non-Indian copy IMEI number series from China and London into the Indian Market, has created resentment among the mobile industry stake-holders in India.

The silence is more alarming in the view that it is related directly to sensitive national security issue of the country.

According to reports ,GSMA spokesperson and Director TAC & IMEI Services Ms. Jenny Lu gave a tepid response to the numerous complaints lodged by the manufacturers with the GSMA in this regard.

“After a long gap since GSMA first received numerous complaints from Indian Mobile Manufacturers Ms. Lu replied by deliberately ignoring the important security issue raised by the Indian Mobile phone industry concerns,” industry sources told the Smart Governance.

Ms Lu while responding to a set of queries put forward by the Smart Governance earlier, said in its reply, that all such allegations were baseless and far from the truth.

“We routinely operate TAC surveillance in India and elsewhere to detect non-compliant devices and trigger corrective actions”,Ms. Lu said placidly. She however did not clarify the GSMA mechanism to perform the TAC/IMEI surveillance in India and the frequency of the surveillance.

She is also silent over the areas or cities in India where GSMA operated the surveillance or the network operator and circle(s) they had performed the IMEI surveillance on.

The submission of the GSMA official appears to be a salad of non-convincing facts.

There were many ifs and buts still prevailing as it was silent over the findings of the surveillance,if any, and also about the corrective actions and steps taken to check resurgence of such lapses in future.

More importantly, Ms. Lu also failed to name the organization they relied upon for surveillance in India.

The Mobile Manufacturer GoeBazar having mobile phone brand MEGUS has refuted GSMA’s claim and asked them to come forward with the details.

“Why these 250 mobile TACS which can be used to create 250 million IMEI’s of the mobile phones were left out of the surveillance radar by GSMA?” asked a MEGUS official.

According to MEGUS representative, GSMA simply does not perform the surveillance.

“They asked me to provide them with evidence whereas in my first e-mail , I had given the complete evidence which should

have triggered an investigation, but it didn’t happen. The Integrity of IMEI is now on a questionable platform,”says MEGUS brand offficial Mr Singh.

Another Indian Mobile phone brand Karbonn, who have been in the mobile industry for the last 10 years, further raised their concerns regarding IMEI / TAC problem in India with GSMA.

“We found a lot of mobile brands selling in Indian markets easily at shops not even taking genuine IMEI numbers. They are doubling TAC numbers from unique numbers,” says Karbonn Mobiles Technical Director Basappa Muttur.

Lack of IMEI / TAC surveillance is a major issue happening here, this is very serious concern for the Brands like us, says Mr Muttur in a letter written to the heads of GSMA Limited John Hoffman and GSM Association Mats Granryd.

He further said not only GSMA is giving rise to bad phones in the Indian market by not controlling it, they are also spoiling the Indian mobile markets.

He also offered a simple yet logical solution to curb the meanace.

“One way to stop this illegal activity is to make TAC free for everyone so that this issue will not surface at all and everyone will gladly take the TAC and will not misuse the TAC, like it used to be before.”

TAC/IMEI’s were issued and allocated free of charge till the end of 2009. GSMA Limited a for profit arm of GSM Association started collecting fees from the Indian Mobile manufacturers while making it free of cost to the Chinese mobile manufacturers since 2010 by granting them unfair advantage and penalizing the Indian mobile industry players.

Mr Muttur further said,“It is very important we should have same policy for everybody be it India , China or UK “.

Beside MEGUS and Karbonn, Celkon, Infocus and numerous other brands have also taken up GSMA monopolistic unfair practice leading up to the compromise of the national telecom security lapse for Mobile phones of India with DoT’s Security Director of User Device Security (UDS) Vijay Agarwal, and the Telecom Secretary Ms. Aruna Sundaranjan.

Smart Governance sought responses over these issue from the government officials including the Telecom Secretary, but it was yet to be responded despite passage of over a week.

London-based , GSM Association (commonly referred to as ‘the GSMA’ or Global System for Mobile Communications, is a trade body that represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide. Approximately 800 mobile operators are full GSMA members and a further 300 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem are associate members.

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