If you are a proud owner of a counterfeit phone, your mobile communication days are numbered – 90 days to be exact. The Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) has given a three-month notice to Kenyans who sell and use counterfeit phones.
Close to 3 million mobile phones in the Kenyan market are counterfeit, translating to about 10% of all the active mobile devices in the country, according to CCK.
But how exactly will CCK switch off the fake phones? What is the relationship between a SIM card and a handset? Does the SIM card recognize it is ‘hosted’ in a fake handset?
These are some of the questions Kenyans are asking in regards to the CCK notice. It doesn’t help that the regulator has issued the switch-off threat several times before, without carrying out the threat.
But with the setting-up of a technical committee involving the Government, CCK, mobile operators and hand-set manufacturers, the regulator is now confident that it can switch off fake mobile phones on September 30th.
The four mobile operators are able to identify counterfeit handsets on their networks and this will be instrumental in the carrying out of CCK’s switch-off notice.
“Through the advice of this technical team, we have established an intelligent database that subscribers will be sending inquiries into to verify whether their mobile phones are genuine or not,” said CCK’s Acting Director General, Francis Wangusi.
The enactment of several key laws, including the Finance Act 2012 and the Kenya Information and Communications Act, may have emboldened CCK to issue the notice this time round. Contravention of the laws banning use or selling of counterfeit phones attracts a fine not exceeding Ksh300,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or both.
As a result of the new laws and rules, CCK has launched the ‘pata ukweli wa mtambo’ awareness campaign to educate Kenyans.
“The campaign aims to educate consumers on the disadvantages of using a counterfeit mobile phone and how to check if a phone is counterfeit. The campaign will also push the benefits of using genuine mobile phones,” says Wangusi.
Apart from infringing on manufacturer’s intellectual property rights, counterfeits also deny the government of revenue in form of tax.
Communications PS, Bitange Ndemo, added that the Government is keen to see all SIM cards registered to avoid a repeat of the 2007/08 post election violence where SMS’s were used to ignite and fan inter-community tensions.
“Law enforcement agencies were unable to bring the culprits to book due to the low number of registered SIM cards, which was aggravated by rampant usage of counterfeit devices,” said Dr. Ndemo.
To find out if your handset is genuine;
1. Dial *#06# to establish your handset’s IMEI. Copy the 15-digit number displayed on your screen.
2. Type the 15-digt number (IMEI) and SMS it to 1555. Once is enough to verify, otherwise you will be charged normal SMS rates if you send the fourth time.
3. If the IMEI is found in the GSMA database, you will receive a confirmation message showing the brand name and model number. If the number is different or not found in the GSMA database, then your mobile phone is not genuine.