The day we have all been dreading is upon us.
Are you one of those people who ridiculed that $1500 price tag for the iPhone 5 when it was released as you should, bought one on your own from abroad and had a friend bring it over with them and bypass our ridiculous custom fees? Well, you lucked out.
As of June 1st, 2013 that option may not be available to you anymore as part of a new decree to fight phone counterfeits on the Lebanese market which do not possess a true IMEI number (link). Your phone number will have to be registered to your phone’s IMEI number in order for you to get service.
So unless you’re a tourist coming into the country and roaming, you’ll have to pay custom fees on your phone in order to have its IMEI registered and use it on Lebanon’s dismal phone networks: alfa and touch.
What will become even more complicated is you selling your used phone to someone when you want to buy a newer one. If you want to do so, you’ll have to have that phone’s IMEI unregistered to your phone number first, a process they say will happen through texts with your mobile operator or online.
When you buy your new phone, you’ll have a period of 3 months to register it with your carrier. In order to do so, you are asked to keep your purchase receipt.
You can only change 3 phones in 6 months. I can already hear millionaires weeping in sadness.
These new regulations, if applied, are absolutely absurd. A few questions at the top of my head are the following:
- Is the best possible way to fight counterfeits across the Lebanese market making it a nightmare for every Lebanese out there to buy and sell mobile phones, a process that should be very straightforward?
- Does it make sense to enforce regulations on phones across the board this way when some major smartphone companies, as an example Apple, have yet to officially release their phone in the country and customers have to purchase them at near-black market prices?
- What if someone bought their phone abroad as a personal purchase and want to use it here? Do they seriously want us to worry about something other than have the LTE frequencies match and the phone be unlocked? Are we supposed to pay custom fees on every single electronic purchase we make just because it’s the best way to fight those knock-off iPhones and Galaxy S?
- How reasonable is it to ask for the nearly 2-million Lebanese who are in possession of phones that don’t even need to be smart to go register them based on a number most of those Lebanese don’t know exist? What happens to those who fail to have their phones registered on September 1st, 2013 – 3 months after the regulations go into effect?
- Did anyone go over the intricate details of this and ask themselves if it’s remotely plausible? How many countries across the world apply this? A google search pointed to India only.
This feels oddly extensive of another decree that took place a few months ago (link) that required Lebanese to go register their phone numbers. Big brother seems to want to watch you even further.
How about we look up to countries where the telecom sector is flourishing and see the steps they’re making in fighting those fake phones and sustain their networks first?
Even so, does a decree on this magnitude even sound reasonable in a country that can’t even manage to apply a simple smoking ban?