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Friday, September 28, 2012


Safaricom, Airtel, Orange and yuMobile will starting Sunday 30, 2012 will begin exchanging blacklists of bogus handsets to be switched off in batches of 20,000.

Safaricom is targeting 680,000 users initially while Airtel has earmarked 130,000 at the outset. Figures for the other two are yet unavailable.

The figures are supposed to be much higher. Airtel for example is reckoned to have about 800,000 counterfeit phone users while Safaricom could go as high as 2million plus.

The game according to Safaricom insiders, has been complicated however, by handset-maker and vendor Nokia, still the dominant handheld device in Kenya.

Safaricom sources say Nokia a couple of years back made a mistake by releasing huge batches of handsets with idential IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) numbers.

As such, many users on the operators network share IMEI numbers.

Airtel boss Shivan Bhargave is said to have protested to the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) who allowed operators to hold off on switching off such phones.

However, those handsets showing a bunch of zeros (0000000) will be cut off without further debate.

To check your IMEI number dial *#06#. You can then send the IMEI number to 115, the common mobile operators database.

The process of switching off is expected to be rolling for about 10-15 hours with 20,000 users being switched off at a time.

It is not clear how the issue of the duplicate IMEIs will be handled.

"It is only Nokia with that problem," Safaricom sources said.

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