February 07, 2020


(Islamabad: 7th February, 2020):  Apropos a news item titled “CMOs block 58M handsets on telecom Authority’s directives” published in Pakistan Observer on 3rd February 2020, it is clarified that the figure of 58 million blocked handsets is incorrect. The assumption that DIRBS has hampered the growth of mobile broadband users in Pakistan is also false. It is regretted that the newspaper or the reporter did not contact Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for official version which could have made the news item balanced and accurate.

To this date, PTA has blocked a total of 50 million devices. This includes 32 million GSMA valid and 18 Million non-standard i.e. non-compliant devices. Such devices were brought into Pakistan through grey channels causing security issues and revenue loss to the Government of Pakistan.

Since implementation of DIRBS, mobile broadband (BB) penetration has 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. The total cellular mobile subscribers reached 165.4 million by the end of November 2019.

As per DIRBS regulations, all devices operating on mobile networks within Pakistan as of 15th January, 2019 were registered. Devices with programmed IMEI which were not as per GSMA standard operating on mobile networks as of 15th January, 2019 were paired/ linked with the mobile number being used.

It is important to clarify here that imposing of duties & taxes on mobile handsets comes under the ambit of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).  PTA only validates an IMEI to ensure it is unique, GSMA valid, not cloned/duplicated or of non-standard formation.

Moreover, PTA has been diligently advising the public through print, electronic & social media and SMS to only buy PTA approved mobile devices and to check status of each IMEI prior to purchase. The status of IMEI of mobile device can be checked through website (dirbs.pta.gov.pk), SMS to 8484 or through android application.