What is DIRBS and Why necessary to implement in Pakistan

There is a strong influx of mobile devices being imported into the Pakistan, however, there remains a significant issue with grey market and counterfeit devices impacting Government, Mobile Network Operators, OEMs/Distributors and Consumers.  Apart from government loss in revenue there is also public security endangered from non-registered devices.

The Government of Pakistan (GoP) has introduced Telecom Policy in 2015 in line with modern day technological evolution and current telecom requirements of consumers. To overcome the issues of counterfeit and illegal devices and it negative repercussions, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) in line with the Telecom Policy 2015 objectives has proposed a system called Device Identification, Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS). The system will use IMEI of device along with other parameters and help in identifying, monitoring and regulating such devices. DIRBS will have capability to help identify counterfeit and illegally imported mobile devices that avoid collection of tax revenues, contribute towards security issues, and negatively impact both end users and MNOs in Pakistan. As per Section 9.6 of Telecommunication Policy 2015, GoP has mandated the PTA to develop a regulatory framework for clauses 9.6.1.-9.6.4 in consultation with all relevant stakeholders and this document seeks the advice and comments of all stakeholders specially MNOs, OEMs/Distributors and Consumers.

What is IMEI?

International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) is a unique identification code for each mobile device allocated by GSMA. The IMEI is a 15 digit number that is used to identify the device. The IMEI also reveals the manufacturer, make & model, type approval details and country of production. The Equipment Identity Register (EIR) is a database located within the Network Operation Control (NOC) of mobile network operators, that contains a record of all the mobile devices that are allowed in a network as well as database of all equipment that is blocked, e.g. because it is reported lost or stolen.

Scope of Work

The defined scope of work within the DIRBS project will be to develop a framework in consultation with all relevant stakeholders and follow the spirit of National Telecom Policy 2015 with the following objectives:

  • Terminal equipment identification and approval
    • Terminal equipment with SIM functionality must have a valid and unique IMEI or equivalent identifier.
    • All parties wishing to import SIM based devices commercially into the territory of Pakistan must have a valid GSMA Type Access Code (Tac) for the model being configured and use IMEI values containing that TAC.
    • Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) will disallow registration of new terminal equipment with un-authenticated DIRBS IMEI/invalid identifiers on their networks.
    • End users and retailers should verify IMEI validity.
    • Terminal equipment imported into the country must be type approved by PTA.
  • Stolen terminal equipment handling 
    • PTA within the framework will introduce a mechanism that will allow for OEMs, Operators to report to PTA any business identified as source of stolen devices.
    • Mobile Network Operators (MNO)’s will report to PTA any devices latched on to their network and reported/identified as stolen.
    • MNOs will block stolen terminal equipment once reported.

DIRBS will enable identification and blocking of these illegal/invalid devices in the market and active on MNO networks with the help of MNOs/OEMs and Consumers. It shall facilitate importers of legitimate devices to continue import of genuine mobile devices through legal import channels.

Illegal/invalid devices include:

  • Counterfeit devices (replicas of official OEMs’ original devices).
  • Illegally imported devices (import tax not paid).
  • Devices with invalid IMEIs (IMEIs not assigned by GSMA).
  • Devices with duplicate IMEIs (multiple devices with same IMEI).
  • Devices reported as stolen/lost (reported locally in Pakistan and globally to GSMA).

DIRBS will enhance GoP revenue by allowing devices imported through proper channel. DIRBS will not only monitor devices being brought into the country in the future, but will also check the installed base of devices currently active or being sold in the channel. Devices identified as illegal/invalid will be mapped to notification or blacklist per classification rules to be defined by PTA explain in the later sections. In short,

DIRBS and its successful implementation will benefit the entire mobile ecosystem in Pakistan.

Guests Devices Registration

DIRBS will give an option to the guests/visitors entering the country to register their own devices in the system. Guest devices with valid IMEIs will be registered in the system for the designated period of time. The device will be registered using identity number (ID card or Passport) and other personal details and will be added to the notification list. Guests will be notified during the period about the remaining duration. After the deadline, these devices will be blocked from being operational on any mobile network operator.

Device Import Interface

The Device Import Interface support sub-system provides a web interface to OEMs/Importers to add IMEIs and information of devices to be imported. Importer will need to get single-use approval code from PTA to add new list. Once approved by PTA as per its Type Approval process and cleared by Pakistan Customs as custom cleared, these devices are added to the import list.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *