February 04, 2020


(Islamabad: 4th January, 2020): Apropos a news item titled “Imported Cellphones: Experts Underscore Need for Revision of Tax Slabs” which was published in Business Recorder on 4th February 2020, it is clarified that the news item presents a skewed and incorrect image of the Device Identification Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS). Moreover, no comment was sought from PTA regarding this news item.

Contrary to the assumption made in the news item, mobile broadband (BB) penetration increased from 51.8 million subscribers in Jan, 2018 to 76.8 million in Nov, 2019 showing an increase of 25 million due to increased usage of smart phones. Where affordability of handsets is concerned, it is important to mention that 4G smart phones are being sold in Pakistan from PKR 6,450 to 11,000.

Furthermore, 4G devices connected to mobile operator networks increased from 16% in January 2018 to 31% as of Dec 2019. Whereas, 3G devices connected to mobile operator networks has decreased from 19% in January 2018 to 13% as of Dec 2019. This reflects that users are preferring to migrate/utilize 4G based devices over 3G.

In 2019, a significant increase in mobile devices import was seen. A total of 28.02 million mobile devices (16.28 million complete units & 11.74 million locally assembled) were imported. Whereas, in 2018, a total of 17.26 million devices (12.06 million complete units & 5.2 million locally assembled) were imported. It is an increase of 62% in total mobile devices in 2019 and reflects substantial increase in import via formal channels due to implementation of DIRBS.

The import of smart phones in 2018 (Jan-Dec) was 7.24 Million, whereas import of smart phones in 2019 (Jan-Dec) stands at 9.81 million. Apart from smart phones, other SIM based devices such as IOT, Dongles, Tablets etc. imported in 2018 (Jan-Dec) were 4.82 million, whereas 6.46 million devices were imported in 2019 (Jan-Dec).

Where tampered IMEI is concerned, the system is actively identifying all such devices. As per procedures, such users are intimated via SMS accordingly. Furthermore, users can check status of a mobile device through the following ways:

  1. Through website: dirbs.pta.gov.pk
  2. Through SMS short code 8484 where user can send IMEI number to know status
  3. Through Android App

Once user sends the IMEIs of the device, the system will provide status of IMEI along with the model and make to which such IMEI belongs. The added information of model enables user to verify if device is genuine or tampered i.e. an IMEI of a different model is copied on the actual device.

It is pertinent to mention that since implementation of PTA DIRBS, the use of fake, sub-standard mobile devices being imported via informal and illegal channels has been significantly curbed.