Big news for the U.S. mobile market has emerged, as AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon have agreed to partner with the FCC to create a database of stolen phones in an attempt to fight the theft of devices. The list of phones will track phones that are designated as lost or stolen using serial numbers associated with the handsets and will block both voice and data services, which will make them less valuable to thieves that may try to resell them.
The database will be created and maintained by the carriers, with each operator's list being created over the next six months. All of the databases will then be gathered and combined in the following 12 months. Smaller carriers are expected to join in on the effort over two years, says the Wall Street Journal. It was also announced today that legislation will be proposed to make it a crime to alter a device's unique IMEI identifier.
Both Sprint and Verizon have been blacklisting lost or stolen CDMA devices and preventing them from being activated on their networks for some time, but blocking stolen devices is a tad more difficult for AT&T and T-Mobile since users can simply pop a SIM card into their devices to gain service. This new stolen phone database should make it easier for all the carriers to deny service to stolen devices, and it's good to see all the carriers banding together on this issue, especially considering that similar lists have been in existence in places like the U.K. and Australia for years. The FCC is currently holding a press conference discussing the details of this new database, and we'll be sure to update you with any new information that comes out.