Friday, July 06, 2012

AT&T Launching Stolen Phone Service

Starting next week AT& will finally launch the company's stolen phone database. A new service that will let customers whose phones and tablets are stolen have their devices blocked from use on the AT&T network by the thieves.

Under pressure by the Federal Communications Commission and police departments around the country, AT&T and all three of the other three major U.S. carriers, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile, agreed to create a national database of stolen cellphones and tablets. The database is intended to allow customers to report their device as stolen, to one company and allow blocking of those devices on any of the other networks. Verizon and Sprint already offer a blocking service, but GSM-based carriers whose phones use SIM card slots do not. The FCC wants its database to work across all LTE smartphones on all carriers no later than Nov. 30, 2013.

When a customer reports a stolen or lost cellphone, they can list their phone in the corresponding database. That information will (or should be) shared with the other major carriers preventing anyone presenting the phone for activation from putting service on the phone.

How this is going to work in relation to SIM carded phones is as of yet unclear. We are assuming they are going to setup a program to block the cell phone's IMEI (International Mobile Equipment) or ESN (Electronic Serial Number) from being accepted.

This new will let customers keep their accounts active instead of canceling them and having to shutdown their accounts for a brief period. If customers get their phones back, they'll be able to call AT&T again to reactivate service.

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