Latin American Mobile Operators Commit to Combat Mobile Device Theft
LONDON, July 17, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Today GSMA Latin America announced the commitment of the main mobile network operators (MNOs) in Latin America to collaborate with the regional governments in initiatives designed to reduce mobile phone theft and related crime. This voluntary initiative of GSM MNOs will allow the sharing of stolen mobile device information in order to block stolen devices and make their trafficking and reuse across the region more difficult.
At a meeting of the Chief Regulatory Officers Group for Latin America (CROG Latin America), public affairs representatives of the regional MNOs agreed on the steps to start exchanging stolen handset information via the GSMA’s IMEI Database. The agreement implies the information shared between MNOs be used to identify devices reported as stolen from users to ensure they are recognised and eventually blocked subject to local regulations.
Javier Delgado, Chair of the CROG Latin America, highlighted that: “This joint effort by all regional operators to be part of this initiative will help regulators in our countries to face and address this scourge.”
This coordinated action by mobile operators is already showing results in Central America, where industry and telecommunications regulators in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama are aligning their efforts to facilitate the identification and blocking of stolen devices. “The idea is to build upon the experience of collaboration between telecom operators and governments carried out in Central America and expand it country-by-country throughout the region over the next six months,” said Delgado.
The creation by the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL) of the Regional Front to Fight against the Theft of Mobile Terminal Devices was a key element of the resolution approved in 2011 by CITEL during the meeting of the Advisory Committee (CCPI). Among the proposals of this resolution, it recommended: ‘Regulating at the regional level the exchange of black-listing databases and blocking their unique identification codes (IMEI) to prevent the activation and use of cell phones stolen in other markets and helping to control illegal trafficking of devices among the region’s countries’.
“Sharing of information via the global IMEI Database is an important collaborative step that our member MNOs are willing to take and is also proof of how public and private sectors can work together to address specific issues of concern to society and governments,” emphasised Sebastian Cabello, GSMA Latin America Director. “While information sharing can help to reduce crime, it is essential to explore and adopt other measures to ensure appropriate detection, prosecution and punishment of such crimes.”
GSMA member operators that are committed to connect to the stolen handset database and to implement measures to block stolen terminals in all countries where they operate in Latin America are: America Movil, Antel, Cable & Wireless Panama, Corporacion Digitel, Entel Bolivia, Entel Chile, ICE, Tigo Colombia, Nextel/NII Holdings, Nuevatel PCS Bolivia, Orange Dominican Republic, Telecom Italia and Telefonica.
The agreement, full implementation of which is expected to conclude in March 2013, covers more than 500 million mobile connections throughout the region. The GSMA will continue working to promote the adoption of these guidelines to all GSMA member companies in Latin America through the signing of memorandum of understandings among operators on a country-by-country basis.
Notes to Editors:
The GSMA maintains a unique system known as the IMEI Database (IMEI DB), which is a global central database containing basic information on serial number (IMEI) ranges of millions of mobile devices (e.g. mobile phones, laptop data cards, etc.) that are in use across the world’s mobile networks. The IMEI is a 15-digit number that is used to identify the device when it is used on a mobile phone network. The IMEI must be unique for each device, so there needs to be a way of managing allocations of IMEIs to handset manufacturers to ensure that no two devices use the same IMEI. The GSMA performs this role, and records all of the IMEIs that are allocated to mobile device manufacturers in the IMEI DB. When reserving IMEIs for a device manufacturer, the GSMA stores some basic information associated with the IMEI. This information includes the manufacturer name and the model identifier of the associated handset and some of its technical capabilities (e.g. frequency bands supported by the handset, the handset power class, etc.). This initiative protects mobile phone users and ensures no details of a personal nature such as telephone numbers, addresses is exchanged. More information can be found here: www.gsma.com/technicalprojects/fraud-security/imei-database/
The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide. Spanning more than 220 countries, the GSMA unites nearly 800 of the world’s mobile operators, as well as more than 200 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset makers, software companies, equipment providers, Internet companies, and media and entertainment organisations. The GSMA also produces industry-leading events such as the Mobile World Congress and Mobile Asia Expo.
GSMA Latin America is the branch of the GSMA in the region. Its regional public policy orientation is defined by the Chief Regulatory Officers Group for Latin America (CROG Latin America) comprised of senior public affairs representatives from 14 of the largest operator groups in Latin America and The Caribbean. For more information, visit www.gsmala.com.