Mobile phones import through legal channels surges by over 100pc on mandatory verification

ISLAMABAD: The import of mobile phones has increased by over 100 percent due to mandatory verification of International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI).

The import of mobile phones increased to Rs78.1 billion during first five months (July – November) of 2019/2020 as compared with Rs38.6 billion in the corresponding period of the last fiscal year, showing a growth of 102 percent, according to import data released by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) on Tuesday.

In terms of US dollars the import of mobile phones increased by 63.62 percent to $498.46 million during first five months of current fiscal year as compared with $304.65 million in the corresponding period of the last fiscal year.

Market sources said that the phenomenal increase was due to restriction imposed by the regulatory authorities to allow active connection only to verified mobile phone.

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) in May 2018 launched Device Identification Registration and Blocking System (DRIBS).

Since implementation of PTA DIRBS the use of fake, sub-standard mobile devices being imported via informal and illegal channels has been significantly curtailed.

The PTA in a statement said the import of smart phones in 11 months of 2019, as of November 30, stands at 7.64 million. In comparison, the import of smart phones in 2018 (January-December) was 7.24 million.

Apart from smart phones, other devices having 3G and 4G technology functionality, such as IoT, Dongles, Tablets etc., imported in 2018 (January-December) were 4.82 million, whereas in 11 months of 2019 (January-November), 7.11 million devices have so far been imported.

Furthermore, 4G devices connected to mobile operator’s networks have increased from 18 percent in January 2018 to 31 percent as of November 2019.

Whereas 3G devices connected to their networks have decreased from 19 percent in January 2018 to 13 percent as of November 2019. This reflects that user are preferring to migrate/utilize 4G based devices over 3G.
Furthermore, the mobile broadband (BB) penetration has also increased from 51.8 million subscribers in January, 2018 to 76.4 million in November, 2019 showing an increase of 24.6 million (47.49 percent) due to increased usage of smart phones. It is also important to mention that 4G smart phones are being sold in Pakistan from PKR 6,450 to 11,000.

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