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Francis Wangusi

Kenya’s telecoms regulator has warned that there will be no postponement of the 30 September cut-off of services to counterfeit handsets.

CCK Director General Francis Wangusi said in a statement that the Commission had issued its directive to operators in May.

The statement said: “Upon receipt of the CCK directive, the mobile operators reverted with the plea that the Commission reviews its decision in order to allow time for greater consultation on the best way forward in implementing this regulatory decision. Subsequently, a technical committee was set up, made up of representatives from the mobile telecoms industry, relevant government agencies, device manufacturers, the Police and CCK, to discuss how best to rid the mobile telecoms market of counterfeit devices with minimal interruptions to the industry and consumers.”

Wangusi noted that after extensive deliberations, the committee had recommended that the switch off of counterfeit handsets should be preceded by a public awareness campaign to sensitize consumers and the general public on counterfeit handsets including the dangers of using fake devices.  The committee had also resolved that there was need to set up an intelligent database for use  by subscribers in confirming the status of their handsets on a real time basis.

Subsequently, CCK rolled out a three month public awareness campaign,  which started in June 2012.  The campaign is now on its tail end, and is expected to come to a close soon. 

At the same time, the Commission in liaison with the device/equipment manufacturers facilitated the setup of the intelligent database with the kind support of the GSM Association.  The system, which works by way of sending an SMS bearing the 15-digit number unique to each mobile handset, also known as the International Mobile Equipment Identifier (IMEI) to 1555, has been in use for the last three months. 

The statement said the system, which has proven robust in accommodating subscriber queries, would remain in force until such a time that the menace of counterfeit handsets is adequately dealt with.

Wangusi said: “We are pleased to note that to date, close to 10 million queries have been made to the system.  This represents slightly more than a third of the total subscriber base of 29.7 million. We have noted with satisfaction that the number of confirmations done through the system have been increasing dramatically as the deadline for switch-off approaches.  We wish to urge Kenyans to make use of this system to confirm the status of their mobile handsets in good time to avoid disconnection come the end of this month. We also wish to remind Kenyans that the first three confirmatory SMS messages to the database are free of charge, after which the normal rates for SMS shall apply."

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