AT&T and T-Mobile are the first two carriers in the United States to offer a joint database that will be used to block stolen cell phones accessing either carrier’s network. The database is live as of early this week, but the initiative started earlier this year after the FCC asked carriers to start looking into ways to prevent cell phone theft. The IDG News Service said that 40% of all thefts in New York City, and 38% in Washington, D.C., are related to stolen mobile devices.
Here’s how it works: the carriers will work together to block stolen cell phone IMEI numbers, instead of blocking SIM cards. That way any device, even with a new SIM card, won’t be able to surf on either network – even if it’s unlocked. “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 Chris Guttman-McCabe, the CTIA’s vice president of regulatory affairs.
Verizon and Sprint are planning to do the same thing soon and the goal is to combine the database to include all four major U.S. wireless carriers by the end of next year.
[via IDG News Service]