updated 10:40 pm EDT, Mon April 9, 2012
FCC to have common pool to deter stolen
The FCC as well as AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon have reached an agreement to potentially improve tracking down stolen cellphones. A common database will register phones and their IMEIs that were marked as stolen or lost and deny them voice or data until they're considered safe. The effort will start with individual databases in half a year, followed by a united pool in the year and a half following that point.
The aim is to reduce the incentive to steal a phone, as it would be rendered useless as soon as the owner reported it stolen. As proposed, it would be harder to stop GSM phones due to the ability to switch carriers with SIM cards, but both AT&T and T-Mobile have been developing ways to block the phones independently of their SIM cards, likely by checking the device itself rather than just the profile on the SIM card.
One possible workaround for thieves will include altering the IMEI, although the measure will help prevent most common theft.
3G and 4G tablets should also be covered as part of the plan. Regional carriers aren't immediately included, but are expected to follow suit within the next two years. [via Wall Street Journal]