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Mobile Registration Plan Mired in Contradictions
Sci & Tech

Mobile Registration Plan Mired in Contradictions

The system needed for the launch of Mobile Registration Plan has not yet been prepared, said the spokesperson of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology on Saturday.  
“To decide how and when the plan should be launched, the ministry, Iran’s Headquarters to Combat the Smuggling of Goods and Foreign Currency and the Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade have been holding meetings over the past six months,” Fars News Agency also quoted Mohammad Reza Farnaqizad as saying.
Farnaqizad added that it was decided to pilot the plan after the groundwork was laid. He, however, said preparations are not yet complete and details of the plan will be widely communicated before it is formally launched.
The official also said the plan will only affect mobile phones that enter the country after the plan is officially executed.

  The Headquarters
The official’s statements contradict those released by the headquarters last week.
To combat the smuggling of mobile phones, the headquarters and relevant organizations said it would be officially launched on July 22.
The International Mobile Equipment Identity of mobile phones that legally enter the country are registered in a system and the smuggled ones are not. SIM cards will not be activated with contraband phones and they cannot deliver telecoms services.
Abbas Nakhaei, the head of the headquarters, said last week that Apple Inc. should set up official representations in Iran before the execution of the plan.
He noted that a directive had been communicated to all provinces stipulating that iPhones be collected from the market.
“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),” he added.
Following the announcement, the status for iPhones at leading online retailers like DigiKala changed to unavailable.
The headquarters released a statement saying all mobile phone dealers need to have official representations, supply chains and after-sales service centers in Iran and this does not apply to a single brand.      
Although it was announced that the plan will affect all contraband phones, the crackdown has for now mainly targeted Apple products.
Last week, two Apple store lookalikes were shut down in central Tehran. The headquarters later announced that shutting down the shops had nothing to do with the Mobile Registration Plan, IRNA reported on Saturday.

  The CRA
Hossein Fallah Joshaqani, a deputy at the Communications Regulatory Authority, said on Sunday that the Mobile Registration Plan was piloted the same day and the related system has been prepared, Mehr News Agency reported.
“The pilot phase was supposed to be launched a week earlier, but was delayed as the needed technicalities were not ready,” he said.
According to the official, Iran’s Custom’s Administration and the Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade are primarily responsible for the registration of mobile phones.
“The two organizations have neither officially announced that they have launched the plan nor have they told the public what factors should be considered before buying a mobile phone,” he said.
He added that the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology will oversee the network.
“Once a SIM card is inserted into a phone, the network will detect if the phone has been registered or not with the system set up by the Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade,” he said.
Joshaqani, like other officials, stressed that the new system will not affect the mobile phones already in use.

  Industries Ministry
Mojtaba Khosrotaj, a deputy of Industries Ministry, declared that there are no plans to remove iPhones from the market.
“The plan has been put in place to combat the smuggling of phones,” he explained. “The phones will automatically go out of use, if they are not registered with the system.”
He added that the most important thing at this point for retailers, who want to continue their business, is to offer official after-sales services.
Khosrotaj stressed that the plan does not mean that phones can only be sold through official representations and “independent retailers can also continue to operate”.
One step ahead of the officials, mobile phone retailers started opening the iPhones in their shops to insert SIM cards and place a call. After activating the phones with this method, they would repack them for later sales.
 
  Unions
Afshar Foroutan, the head of Iran’s Mobile Phone Retailers’ Union, told ISNA that the prices of iPhones had risen sharply after these announcements.
He criticized the ineffective measure and pointed out that similar measures in the past had also proved ineffective.
Similar actions were launched in 2006 and stopped shortly after.
“To properly tackle such an issue, one must begin by correcting the import tariff,” he said.
He added that the measures are highly unprofessional and obviously not been thought through carefully by experts.
Foroutan said retailers had started secretly selling iPhones to customers at a price agreed between them.   
Mehdi Mirmehdi, the head of Iran’s IT Union, also said that “forcefully tackling such an issue will only result in more contraband phones entering the country”.
“There are many such phones in the market and confiscating all of them will not be easy,” he said.
Mirmehdi assured that iPhones that manage to make their way to Iran’s market hereafter will also find a way to bend the new regulations.

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