updated 10:40 pm EDT, Wed October 31, 2012
AT&T, T-Mobile join forces; universal database by end of 2013
An April initiative spurred by the Federal Communications Commission and police chiefs from major cities has borne fruit. Online today, a set of databases hosted by AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint are keeping track of cellphones reported stolen. The new database prevents stolen phones from being used on their network by filtering by IMEI, rather than any previous functionality targeting the SIM card.
"The goal is to not only protect the consumer by cancelling the service, but by ultimately protecting the consumer by drying up the after market for stolen phones," said Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Chris Guttman-McCabe from wireless trade association CTIA.
Carriers AT&T and T-Mobile offer a joint database, as the carriers use the same basic networking technology. Verizon and Sprint offer a second database. By the end of November 2013, the four carriers will combine databases, and adding smaller carriers like Nex-Tech and Cellcom. Plans exist to link the US database with an international version hosted by the GSM Association to prevent stolen phones from being shipped to overseas markets and used on other networks.