Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T are reportedly working with the FCC to create a nationwide registry for lost and stolen phones.
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Phones that appear in a stolen phone database maintained by carriers will be cut off from voice or data services on their network. Both Verizon and Sprint have been able to shut down stolen phones for some time since they use CDMA networks, which don’t rely on SIM cards. T-Mobile and AT&T users have not had the same functionality because their phones contain GSM cards, which are easily swapped.
Julius Genachowski, chairman of the FCC, explained the reason for creating the database:
New technologies create new risks. We wanted to find a way to reduce the value of stolen smartphones.
The registry will allow GSM networks to have the same functionality as CDMA networks and track both the number individual serial number stolen phones. By comparing these, carriers will be able to determine whether a phone should have access to the network or not.
The carriers expect their databases to be online within six months. They will be merged within 18 months, and joined by smaller carriers within 24 months.