Economy, Sci & Tech

Ban on Contraband Cellphones in Iran Reaches LG

Ban on Contraband Cellphones in Iran Reaches LGBan on Contraband Cellphones in Iran Reaches LG

Following the government’s belated policy of curbing cellphone smuggling, another phase of the so-called Mobile Registry Scheme went into effect Saturday with the Communication Regulatory Authority announcing that henceforth LG phones must be registered with the ombudsman or they will be disconnected from the network.

Head of CRA Hossein Fallah Joshaghani said in Tehran phone brands in their entirety will be subject to the scheme by March. “From Feb. 17 all LG cellphones must be registered. After LG, the two major phone brands with the largest market shares will be subject to the new rules and contrabands will become a thing of the past,” Fallah was quoted as saying on the CRA website.

To prevent a shock to the huge cellphone market, implementation of the scheme had been phased. Four brands, namely Apple, Motorola, Blackberry and Google Pixel are already done with the registry scheme.

According to Joshghani, the scheme applies only to handsets purchased after the launch of the scheme, for iPhones after Oct. 20, 2017, and Google, BlackBerry and Motorola phones bought after Dec. 5 of the same year.

The next two brands up for registry are most likely Samsung and Huawei. The registry scheme bars local operators from offering services to contraband phones. 

Joshaghani said, “iPhone has 10% of the market and LG 17%”. He did not say anything about the other brands situation in Iran’s cellphone market.

The ombudsman said the highest number of unregistered phones belonged to iPhone and more than 30,000 have been disconnected.

Noting that 3,000 warning messages have been sent to iPhone owners with unregistered phones, Joshaghani added, “Subscribers who have a complaint regarding the disconnection of their handsets can contact 096366 and will be advised on how to resolve the problem.”

For implementing the scheme, the relevant authorities use an online database of the IMEI, or the International Mobile Equipment Identity number of the functioning handsets.

Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration says it lost $625 million in revenues during the last fiscal that ended in March 2017 due to the rampant smuggling of cellphones. Mobile phone importers pay 18% tariff. 

While the government has its eyes on ‘lost revenues’, according to market insiders, since the scheme was launched, mobile phone prices jumped 20-35%. For flagship handsets the rise translates into a $200 to $300 hike per piece.

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