More than 800 SIM cards on iPhone 15 deactivatedThe Nepal Telecommunications Authority has formally implemented MDMS, primarily to stop the use of smuggled phone sets.
Nepal’s telecom regulator has deactivated mobile SIM cards on hundreds of iPhone 15 sets operating in the country over the last two days after they were found not registered with the newly implemented mobile device management system (MDMS).
Nepal Telecommunications Authority, the telecommunication regulator, said since 9 am on Monday, they have deactivated mobile SIM cards of 804 iPhones.
MDMS, a system that tackles the illegal import of mobile phones, was fully implemented on Sunday, after several years of planning.
“In the first phase, we have deactivated mobile SIMs of the most expensive phones,” said Achyuta Nand Mishra, deputy director of the Nepal Telecommunications Authority.
“The mobile sets not registered in MDMS will be eventually blocked.”
The regulator issued a notice on October 21 asking users in Nepal to register their mobile handsets within 15 days.
“We had sent text messages to the owners of the unregistered phones before taking the action,” Mishra said.
The users will not be able to make voice calls and send text messages through the mobile sets using Nepali SIMs, Mishra said.
The action will continue in phases.
Mobile users who have received the SMS on their phones asking to register their handsets in MDMS need to do so by visiting the official website of the Nepal Telecommunications Authority.
According to the telecom authority, all foreigners entering Nepal are required to register their phone sets if they stay in Nepal for more than 15 days. Their mobile will be permitted to operate as per the visa period after the registration.
The mobile phone sets brought from foreign countries for personal use for temporary stay and have completed customs clearance are being registered in MDMS automatically.
If the phones brought from foreign countries are not customs-cleared, users can register the devices with MDMS by submitting a passport or citizenship document.
The authority said that other options for customs clearance include providing documents such as arrival or departure stamps on the passports or boarding passes.
According to the authority, 60 million phone sets have been registered with the MDMS, which includes registration of the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number, a unique 15-digit code that precisely identifies the device with the SIM card input.
The authority said around 10.20 million mobile sets are in the process of being registered with their IMEI numbers.
If the phone sets are imported through the official channel, the importing company or dealer would register the IMEI number.
The authority had originally planned to roll out the system in mid-July 2021, but it was put off due to the protracted Covid lockdowns as the shipments of equipment required to set up a data centre were delayed, the authority said.
The new date to implement the system had been fixed for December 30 last year after a soft launch in August of the same year.
However, the launch was postponed further on the orders of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal.
The prime minister's move followed public criticism as the new policy barred a Nepali citizen from bringing home more than two mobile sets from abroad.
On May 9, the Cabinet meeting decided to implement MDMS, after a brief halt, to tackle the grey market of mobile phones.
The government then amended the Baggage Rules, 2016 allowing migrant workers to bring in one new mobile set, in addition to their phone.
The migrant workers have to present a legal work permit for at least six months to be eligible to bring in the new mobile phone set. Migrant workers are exempt from paying 18 percent of the tax on mobile phone sets.
The government has been imposing an 18 percent tax on smartphones and a 15.5 percent tax on bar phones.
According to the Department of Customs, Nepal imported 642,415 smartphones worth Rs9.43 billion in the first three months of the current fiscal year.
In the fiscal year 2021-22, Nepal saw record mobile phone imports, in terms of value.
According to the Department of Customs, the import of mobile phones amounted to Rs40.89 billion in 2021-22.
The mobile importers and distributors said that the MDMS would control the grey market of mobile phones, which they have estimated to be around 50 percent.
According to the authority, MDMS is a security software that enables the regulator to implement policies that secure, monitor and manage end-user mobile devices.
It will eliminate mobile imports from the grey market and phones sold without a bill and warranty. The authority said the system tracks only the device information and not other matters.