70% of phones illegally imported, officials claim at launch of IMEI scheme

19 Apr 2013

Around 70% of mobile phones in the Lebanese market are smuggled into the country, according to officials in an announcement which claimed that from June 2013 onwards, measures will be implemented to render illegally imported devices unusable. However, the crackdown will reportedly not affect phones which were imported before the measures come into force. Telecoms Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui said state revenues would be boosted by USD60 million a year, via the scheme to allow only phones with International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) codes registered at the Customs department to access the networks of state-owned cellcos Touch and Alfa. Visitors to Lebanon wishing to use devices purchased outside the country will need to register their handsets at the airport to be allowed to use them for a limited period of time. As reported by Zawya.com, a common database shared by Customs and the two mobile operators has already been set up to register legally imported phones.