Mobile device management system to go live on FridayUsers who brought devices from abroad before mid-August should update their operating system by taking an invoice from the customs office.
The nation’s telecommunications regulator—Nepal Telecommunications Authority has announced the implementation of the mobile device management system in a full-fledged manner from Friday, three months after its soft launch.
Issuing a notice on Saturday, the regulator requested that mobile phone users who brought their handheld devices from abroad for personal use before mid-August this year should now update their operating system by taking an invoice from the customs office.
The mobile sets need to complete the customs declaration as per the Customs Act, 2007.
“The sets not declared in customs, according to the rules, will not be registered from December 30. And this type of mobile set will stop operating,” according to the notice.
The users can register their devices by visiting www.mdms.nta.gov.np. They need to submit the invoice for the mobile sets bought for personal use online, including a copy of their passport or citizenship or national identity card.
While purchasing a mobile phone within the country, users need to verify whether the set is registered in the mobile device management system or not.
Also, the mobile importers need to take approval from the authority before importing the mobile set and selling and distributing the sets registered in the authority.
The authority introduced the system to discourage illegal imports, sale and distribution of mobile sets and to track and block mobile phones in cases of theft and loss.
Achyuta Nand Mishra, deputy director of Nepal Telecommunications Authority, said that around 1.5 million mobile phones imported by traders have been registered during the first five months of the current fiscal year.
Similarly, 10,800 mobile phones bought for personal use have been registered.
According to the authority, a total of 3 million mobile sets have been registered for International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI). The IMEI is a unique 15-digit code that precisely identifies the device with the SIM card input.
“With the implementation of the mobile device management system from December 30, Nepalis coming from abroad also need to register their mobile phone bought for personal use by taking an invoice from the customs office,” Mishra said.
According to the rules of customs, an extra mobile phone is allowed to be bought by a Nepali returning from abroad, Mishra said.
“Tourists coming to Nepal can use their mobile phones for 15 days and require registering in the system by taking an invoice from the customs office. Nepalis coming from abroad will be able to operate their mobile phones for 15 days and if the set does not get registered in the system, it will be blocked,” said Mishra.
The authority was said to be implementing the system in the last fiscal year, but it had not been able to implement it effectively.
Sanjay Agrawal, vice-president of the Mobile Phone Importers' Association, said unless the authority starts blocking the mobile sets brought illegally, proper implementation of the system would be in doubt.
The regulator’s move is laudable, he said.
“The soft launch of mobile device management has helped in the control of the gray market of mobile phones by 50 percent. If there is a strict measure, it will completely stop the gray market,” Agrawal said.
The illegally imported phones are still operating which need to be blocked, said Agrawal. Around 7,000 iPhones have been activated in the country, despite import restrictions and those phones are not blocked, he said.
“If the authority fails to block the mobile phones from December 30, then questions will be raised over the mobile device management system,” Agrawal said.
Mobile phone dealers have long been complaining about falling sales because of a rampant gray market.
The Mobile Device Management System will bring smartphones under the registration net, making it easier for authorities to monitor them, according to the Nepal Telecommunications Authority.
According to the Department of Customs, the import of smartphones declined by 51.21 percent to Rs11.2 billion through imports of 803,818 mobile sets in the first five months of the current fiscal year.
The decline in the import of smartphones by more than half is mainly due to the government restricting the import of mobile phones costing over $600 from April and more than $300 from July. The government lifted the ban in December.
Smartphones are mainly imported from China and India.
The system will be synced to a database called Equipment Identity Register, which contains records of legal and illegal mobile devices in the country.
The device management system is also expected to identify cloned, low-cost copy versions of branded phones with fake registration numbers.
The telecom regulator moved to develop the system four years ago after the Mobile Device Management System Bylaws 2018 were issued.