"Illegal" mobile phones can still be active for 2 years after the passage of the IMEI regulation: minister

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With the government almost certain to approve a regulation that will see mobile phones taken out of legal means blocked in Indonesia from August, affected users can breathe a sigh of relief – one that is as long as it takes to most modern humans before getting sick of our phones and wanting to buy new ones.

RELATED: Indonesia has decided to block illegal mobile phones with IMEI regulation starting from August: official

Yesterday, the Minister of Information and Communications (Kominfo) Rudiantara told reporters that once the regulation is approved, there will be a two-year grace period in which phones with IMEI (International Equipment Identification) codes do not registered with the Indonesian government will be able to connect to the cellular networks of the country.

"We all know that we change phones every few years. Usually every two years, then (the grace period is two years) is a safe bet," said Rudiantara, as quoted by CNN Indonesia.

Rudiantara added that, after two years, illegal phones must have their IMEI codes registered with the Ministry of Industries – a previously reported process would involve the payment of additional taxes – regardless of whether they changed ownership.

If the regulation is approved, starting in August, telephone users must register the 15-digit IMEI – a unique code assigned to each SIM card slot of a phone – to stay connected to cellular networks in Indonesia.

If a phone is detected as illegal and therefore blocked, no SIM card of any mobile operator will work with the phone in Indonesia (although the phone could still connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi in theory).

What the legislation essentially means is that mobile phones purchased through official retailers in Indonesia, both physical and online, should be exempt from the block. The phones purchased on the black market, both nationally and abroad, or those that do not have IMEI codes registered with the Ministry of Industries, will not be able to connect to cellular networks in Indonesia.

Phones that have been legally purchased abroad may be exempt from the block if they are reported to the authorities here, but will be subject to additional taxes.

Government officials say they are finalizing the regulation but have yet to reveal specific details on the exemptions. One of the many unanswered concerns related to regulation is whether tourists' phones will be able to work or not in Indonesia once they have passed.

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