Last year, the FCC and the Big Four carriers announced that they were developing a national lost-and-stolen phone registry. Now, the wireless industry says that the database is complete.
To refresh your memory, last year we explained the point of the new initiative:
The database, which will be maintained by each carrier, will track all phones reported stolen and remotely deny them voice and data service. Carriers plan to track the individual phones with serial numbers associated with each device. Verizon and Sprint—both of which employ CDMA networks—already have the ability to remotely kill a pilfered phone and deny their reactivation. T-Mobile and AT&T—which run on GSM and rely on easily-swappable SIM cards—do not. The later two are reportedly working include extra checks to ensure that both the phone and the SIM card are legit.
Now, all the carriers have announced that the technology will allow them to block activation of LTE smartphones and other 3G devices, which should—hopefully!—deter theft. The hope is that the trend will spread internationally, too. "As more countries and more carriers around the world participate in the 3G and 4G/LTE databases, criminals will have fewer outlets since these stolen phones would be blacklisted and could not be reactivated," wrote CTIA president and CEO Steve Largent in a press release.
It remains to be seen, of course, how effective the database will be. And given last week's suggesting that carriers and manufacturers alike are actually fairly happy about the fact you get your phone stolen, it's also unclear if their hearts are really in it. But hey, maybe it's benefit of the doubt time: if these measures really can help reduce smartphone crime—even if that is a big if—then it's all good by us. [CTIA via Verge
Image via Shutterstock / Ammentorp Photography