TRC issues Gazette Extraordinary 2196/51 ensures consumer protectionagainst illegal smartphone trade
The smartphone customers of SriLanka is protected from illegal smartphone imports owing to a revolutionarygazette issued by TRCSL (Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka).
The Gazette Extraordinary2196/51, issued in December 2020, stipulates that the Type Allocation Code(TAC) letter issued to the manufacturer from GSMA, as a mandatory requirementfor all smartphone imports. In essence the import control with TAC requirement,denotes the authenticity and originality of all imported smartphone handsets tothe country.
“With the TAC requirement,smartphone customers are able to purchase a genuine device without doubts of gettinga fake. Generally, customers who obtain genuine smartphones can claim warrantyservice from the authorized service centers as per the manufacturer’s ownpolicy. Through genuine imports, local buyers not only gain access to genuineproduct but also are able to collect all promised accessories for the handsetfrom the retailer. If the smartphone handset did not face this screening thebuyer has to undergo the hassle of obtaining necessary approvals by themselvesto qualify for a warranty of service -which is tedious and time consuming,”stated an industry insider.
“This is a win for customers asthey are protected over a substandard product and gain original productwarranties, the Customs and the government benefit in terms of tax collected,and phone identification data while the phone importers are ensured that nocheap, copied emulations of their phone handsets run amok in the marketplace. Thisrequirement directly impacts all stakeholders of Sri Lankan smartphone marketincluding the importers who bring down the phones legally, the government andthe consumer. Thereby, this action too therefore is often full of praise forTRCSL for its visionary mechanism since this is no less than a clear “win-win”for all,” he added.
With the successfulimplementation of TAC requirement, TRCSL not only succeeded in verifying theauthenticity of the handsets but gave more to Sri Lankan mobile smartphonemarket; ensuring good network performance, prevent distortion and degradationof network, avoid interference, and preserves network integrity. What isequally important was the strong stream of tax revenue ensured by TRCSL’s cleverscreening of devices which would otherwise be lost to the country-in billionrupees.
The industry can benefit whenmaking policy decisions (Eg: Tax policies and other fiscal policies) such dataare available. Since this screening eliminates dumping of inferior orsub-standard handsets to the market, importers –who promptly pay import taxesfor their imports-can prove the original quality of the phones they import andsell-thanks to TRCSL.
In 2020, Sri Lanka has spent US$408 million on smartphone imports. This was even 0.78% higher than the secondlargest fossil-fuel category imported that year—crude oil imports at US$ 405million. While the value of imported devices was US$ 408 million, the “volume”of the imported tabs and smartphones in 2020 was approximately 1500 metric tons.
As the hunger for mobile services–especially 4G services-continues to grow in the country over the recent years,it is a little surprise that the demand curve for smartphone handsets tooswiftly paralleling this upward trend. As such runaway volumes of handsets came to the country, it isconvenient to think that no agency could monitor and regulate such largevolumes -while ensuring that the arriving products conform to qualitystandards.
Despite such anxiety and doubts,one Sri Lankan state agency TRSCL not only ensured that the bulk of thesearrivals were conforming to international standards of quality but were alsogenuine and authentic products from the indicated global brand.