Sci & Tech

Crackdown on Contraband Cellphones Commences

Crackdown on Contraband Cellphones Commences Crackdown on Contraband Cellphones Commences

Two stores claiming to be official representatives of Apple Inc. in Iran were shut down last week, said the head of Iran’s Telecoms Guild.

“The two shops had permits for indirect sales of Apple products in Iran. Their permits have been revoked,” Gholamhossein Karimi Khorasani was quoted as saying by Fars News Agency.

One of the closed shops was located in the tech mall known as Charsou Bazaar in central Tehran.

As the mobile registration plan went into effect on July 22, any mobile brand that has not been officially registered in the new system cannot be traded.

“Retailers that do not comply with the new regulations will face the consequences,” he said.

Last week, Iran’s Central Taskforce to Combat the Smuggling of Goods and Foreign Currency gave Apple Inc. a deadline for setting up legal representation in Iran.

Abbas Nakhaei, the taskforce’s secretary-general, said all Apple iPhones will be removed from the market once the mobile registration plan is implemented, Tasnim News Agency reported.

To combat contraband cellphones, the taskforce has devised a “mobile registration plan” that registers the details of mobile phones legally entering Iran.

“With the execution of the plan, only smartphones that have entered the country via legal channels could offer telecoms services,” he said.

“With the execution of the plan, a phone sold for 20 million rials ($570) will lose value and will not be worth more than 2 million rials ($57).”

Following the news, the status of almost all iPhones changed to unavailable at leading Iranian online retailers such as Digikala.

Several shop owners have started removing or hiding the iPhones from their shops. They reportedly activate their phones with an Iranian SIM card so that they are registered and can be easily sold in future from the backdoor.

Jahangir Asadi, the spokesperson of Iran’s Communications Regulatory Authority, noted that the phones registered before the plan went into effect will not be affected and can still be used, IRNA reported.

A spokesperson of Iran’s Central Taskforce to Combat the Smuggling of Goods and Foreign Currency noted that the registration plan was first ratified in May. The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology was given two months to prepare for the plan’s execution.

“Regulations of the telecoms guild stipulate that any product sold in Iran’s market should have an official representation, supply chain and after-sales service center,” he said.

“Apple products sold hereafter will not be able to deliver communications services unless the company sets up official offices in Iran”.

Asadi noted that “there are no legal bans against an American company setting up office in Iran unless the policies of the Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade state otherwise.”

In fact, American companies are not banned from setting up an office or sales outlet in any sector of Iran, provided they follow the legal procedures and receive the necessary permits.

The new plan has been devised to counter the illegal imports of cellphones and gadgets. This is not the first time such a plan has been launched, as a similar measure was adopted in 2006 but did not last long.

A report published by Fars News Agency stated that the plan should avoid double standards; in other words, it should affect all brands that either do not have direct legal representations or whose legal permits have expired.

According to the report, the new plan will also affect the sales of brands such as Sony, HTC and Microsoft in Iran, but not Alcatel, Huawei, LG and ZTE.

The report states that the status of Samsung phones is unclear and that it does not include information on all other brands such as Xiaomi.

The Financial Tribune contacted a Samsung representative who said the company will be releasing an official statement in this regard on Sunday.

Microsoft and Sony were not available for comment on Friday, as it is a public holiday. This is while HTC played cat and mouse, as it struggles to get its act together.