What you need to know:
Quality. Measure will affect only new users of devices believed to be counterfeit.
Anybody who buys a counterfeit mobile phone after October should think twice as they risk being denied access to any network, the Uganda Communications Commission has said.
UCC said in a media statement on Wednesday that it will soon make it technically impossible for counterfeit phones from being used on the country’s existing mobile telecommunications network as a measure for stopping their importation and checking their booming sales in the country.
The move by UCC follows an upsurge in the influx of fake mobile handsets onto the Ugandan market in the past few months as the September 30 deadline for all network service providers in Kenya to deactivate sim-cards carried in such handsets closes in.
Months ago, the Communications Commission of Kenya directed telecom operators to switch off all sim-cards being used in counterfeit handsets on their networks in an attempt to stem their sales.
But unlike Kenya that will de-activate the already active sim-cards and also block new fake phones from accessing networks, UCC, according to its executive director Godfrey Mutabazi, will begin by blocking new devices from accessing networks.
“We will not de-activate the already active sim-cards being used in counterfeit devices because we are still in discussions with industry players on the way forward. But no new one will be activated,” Eng. Mutabazi emphasised.
“The sudden influx of fake telecommunications devices is a serious concern. These phones are low in quality and do not meet safety standards, and in some situations, the radiation from them is beyond the permissible limits and can cause serious damage to the health of Ugandans.”
A counterfeit phone is one whose International Mobile Equivalent Identity (IMEI) – serial number signature imprinted on the inside of the device’s battery compartment – is a fake and cannot be recognised on data bases of genuine mobile phone manufacturers.
All mobile phone devices can be authenticated by a user when one feeds in the imprinted IMEI signature. UCC intends to provide the public with a short code to which one will be able to send any IMEI serial number to verify whether the device is original or counterfeit.
The clamp-down by UCC is also expected to put many phone dealers out of business.
Obed Bagyenyi, was recently quoted by this newspaper saying: “Genuine phones are too expensive. They can only be afforded by rich people yet low income earners also want to own good brands. So they buy what resembles the original Nokia or Samsung but at a cheaper price,” Katamba said.
However, Eng. Mutabazi warned that on top of the health hazards that consumers of counterfeit products are exposed to, substandard phones are also a threat to the national economy and security.
“During the past few years there has been a categorical rise in mobile users – 17 million Ugandans as of to-date - thereby increasing the demand of various types of mobiles. These phones are usually not subjected to any regulatory authority and thereby not made in conformity to relevant standards and specifications,” he said.
He said the poor quality of service experienced by some mobile phone users may be due to the substandard quality of their handsets.
According to the Uganda Revenue Authority data, Uganda imported 120,258 pieces of mobile phones estimated at Shs5.87b in July alone, up from 81,650 pieces in May 2012, estimated at Shs3.87b.
How to Identify an original and fake mobile phone
1. Dial *#0000# works with genuine Nokia to give you the software version that was used for your mobile phone and the year of manufacturer.
2. Also, the easiest way to tell the origin of your phone is to press *#06# on your phone and the IMEI number will appear.
What digits mean. Then check the seventh and eighth digit of this 15-digit number. If the seventh and eighth digits are 0 2 or 2 0 this means your cell phone was manufactured in China and may be of questionable quality. When the 7th and 8th digits are 0 1 or 1 0 your mobile phone was made in Finland which most likely is a good quality. However, if these digits are 0 0, then your cell phone was made in original factory which is best in phone quality.
Note: The IMEI is a unique 15-digit code that identifies a phone. It stands for International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI). The IMEI is an automatically registered with the mobile service provider as soon as your phone is activated. For every call you make, your mobile phone provider gets to know the IMEI number.