Mobile & Wireless Forum has published a Case Study on Pakistan DIRBS that highlighted how the Implementation of DIRBS has addressed the issue of counterfeit, illegal and stolen mobile devices in a country and created a favorable situation for the establishment of local assembly plants for mobile device assembly that resulted in local job creation.
Implementation of DIRBS helped clean-up the local market of counterfeit devices, reduced the theft of mobile devices, ensured legitimate device importations as well as increased government revenue. It also helped to create additional local business opportunities without putting any adverse effect on subscriber growth or consumer choice.
Pakistan DIRBS Deployment a Global Success Against Illegal Mobiles_ Mobile & Wireless Forum
The case study also highlighted the background to the introduction to DIRBS, the policy framework, challenges and how these were addressed.
In the background of the introduction of 3G/4G mobile networks, Pakistan has experienced tremendous mobile phone growth where the mobile market has always functioned as an open market with the supply and availability of devices through independent importers, distributors, and retailers.
However, the open market also supported the theft and resale of stolen mobile devices that became a significant problem in major cities. All these factors encouraged a growing market for counterfeit and stolen devices. This was the time when the regulator Pakistan Telecommunication Authority realized that there is requirement of a customized solution.
In the beginning of implementation of DIRBS, the operators were reluctant to corporate with government due to the fear that the blocking of existing non-compliant devices would resulted in a decline of the subscriber base. However, with Central Asian Cellular Forum, MNOs, OEMs and implementation partners from the industry worked closely with PTA and assisted to draft a viable regulatory framework and the regulations required a technical solution to support various aspects of system implementation.
Before the implementation of DIRBS, PTA had decided to work on stakeholders’ awareness and acceptance of the system as it was essential for the successful implementation of DIRBS. For this purpose, PTA engaged in an extensive awareness campaign for all stakeholders via traditional print and television as well as on social media.
PTA also run campaigns to inform Consumers about the deployment of the system and how the system would protect them and how they could check if a device was legitimate. For the assistance of consumers, PTA sent SMS messages to every mobile phone in the country encouraging them to check the status of their device. Consumers could likewise send an SMS to check the IMEI of their device or access the PTA website or use the specially developed Android App.
PTA also held Workshops for the stakeholders within the industry including OEM’s, Distributors, Retailers and Network Operators.
DIRBS Resulted in an Unexpected Subscribers’ Growth:
Before the implementation of DIRBS, the operators in the country were scared of an adverse impact on subscribers, but the system surprisingly provided them with quite opposite results and during the first year, Pakistan’s subscribers grew by 10.7M.
With the implementation of DIRBS, the change in the technology mix has also been observed. Due to the blocking of the large number of illegal and counterfeit devices, consumers shifted to the 4G devices and as a result the prevalence of 2G devices fell by 7% in the market. In one-year, advanced 4G devices grew an impressive 20%.
In addition to that, the legal device imports increased from 17.2 million devices in 2018 to 28m in 2019, a 62.7% increase. In 2020, legal device imports had increased by a further 32.83 million (as of December 2020).
With the help of DIRBS, PTA successfully achieved its several policy objectives that include the cleaning up of the mobile device market in Pakistan, particularly in the prevalence of fake and counterfeit devices. Furthermore, total of 24.3 million fake IMEI’s were removed from the national market, with 53 million IMEIs blocked.
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Recommended Reading: DIRBS Ends Illegal Phone Business in Pakistan, PM Briefed