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Grey imports on the rise again as NTA fails to implement MDMS

Grey imports on the rise again as NTA fails to implement MDMS

Grey imports of smartphones rise with lack of MDMS unauthorized illegal phones Nepal Mobile Device Management System

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Before we get into how grey imports of smartphones are once again on the rise in Nepal due to the absence of MDMS, let’s first take a look at how we got here. During the 2078-79 budget announcement, the Nepal government confirmed that they were finally implementing Mobile Device Management System (MDMS) from Shrawan 1.

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What is MDMS?

In essence, this system would make grey (unauthorized) smartphones totally obsolete. That’s because MDMS will only recognize officially imported phones and grant them access to cellular connectivity.

On the contrary, illegally imported devices will be cut off from all Nepali telco’s networks. Meaning, you wouldn’t be able to make calls or access internet services on those phones. As one could imagine, the main objective of this initiation was so that the government would have a firm grasp on the domestic smartphone industry, which in turn will lead to increased tax revenues.

Mobile Device Management System MDMS in Nepal Grey Smartphone Imports Phone Illegal Ban IMEI Registration

However, even after almost six months of the initial announcement, there has been no definitive progress yet. And sadly, there’s not a specified date as to when Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) is going to implement MDMS either. What’s even worse is that MDMS was supposed to go live more than a year ago following the original project timeline.

Anyway, after the news about MDMS going live was announced during this year’s budget speech, the fear among the grey/unauthorized sellers in the market was palpable. Pair this with all the travel and flight restrictions due to the pandemic, the influx of unofficial imports was at an all-time low during this brief period.

Absent MDMS ➝ grey imports rise again

But as the Nepal government and countries worldwide have begun to loosen the COVID restrictions, borders have reopened and international flights from Dubai and Hong Kong have resumed. Since MDMS is nowhere in action, things are back to the way they were before; with illegal smartphones entering the Nepali border in large quantities.

Grey sellers are once again on the rise. And their confidence to sell grey and illegal phones has shot up as well.


It’s almost like seeing the famous children’s story “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” play right in front of our eyes. The Nepal government has been “threatening” with MDMS implementation to no avail so many times that the illegal importers have become indifferent to this idea entirely. And the market is flooded with unauthorized/illegal phones.

Back in July, an anonymous source from NTA did confirm to that NTA had a lot of work cut out for itself in terms of importing proper infrastructure to implement MDMS. And the announcement during the budget speech was intended for show only.

Networking infrastructure

Likewise, speaking with The Kathmandu Post, Mr. Purushottam Khanal (Senior Director, NTA) assured that 95% of the installation would be completed by mid-August. Fast forward to the final weeks of November, you can see for yourself how confidently people are selling such unofficial devices now.

Here, there, and everywhere

All the subtle/discrete practices of the past

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