Earlier in April, the FCC and wireless carriers joined to work together on a new plan that would try and discourage the theft of cellphones rendering them useless once reported stolen by making a database of stolen cellphones. Now, AT&T and T-Mobile have introduced that database, which can track stolen cellphones. They become the first mobile carriers in the United States to use this database.
With the introduction of the database, carriers will be able to block the stolen handsets from being used on their networks, allowing carriers to disable voice and data services on stolen phones altogether. The new database will block the IMEI number, a unique identification number in the cellphone and this ID will remain with the cellphone no matter what SIM card is used.
“The goal is to not only protect the consumer by cancelling the service, but by ultimately protecting the consumer by drying up the after market for stolen phones,” said CTIA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Chris Guttman-McCabe. In New York, more than 40 percent of all robberies involve cellphones and in Washington, cellphone thefts accounted for 38 percent of all robberies in 2011.
Carriers AT&T and T-Mobile have collaborated to create the database because they use the same GSM network technology so handsets from one can be easily used on the other. By the end of November 2013, other carriers like Sprint and Verizon will join into AT&T and T-Mobile’s databases to create a unified system for targeting and blocking stolen phones.