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Carphone Warehouse takes on eBay

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Second-hand phones are dime a dozen, and while the trade in second-hand handsets might not be good for manufacturers, it is good for network operators who see greater deployment of advanced handsets as driving new revenue opportunities.

Carphone Warehouse reckons it can be good for them too, and has launched a new auction site just for buying and selling handsets.

MyMobileAuction.com will list handsets or peripherals for £1.25 a time, though until 17 November they'll waive that fee. Every phone sold has its IMEI checked against the Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR) to ensure it's not stolen.

The majority of network operators, at least in Europe, now connect to the CEIR to block stolen phones being used on their network: comparing the IMEI (the handset ID number) to a list of stolen devices. It is possible to change the IMEI on a handset, but it’s not easy, and for most people the guarantee that a handset won’t be blocked is more important than its history.

Charging people £1.25 is comparable with the cost of an eBay auction, but eBay's popularity is largely based on the peer-reviewed trust mechanism. It can be subverted, but the presence of a green star goes a long way to allay people's security concerns and it won't be easy for MyMobileAuction.com to establish anything comparable. While one might be given to trust someone with a long and extensive eBay history, the same might not be true of someone who buys and sells a lot of mobile phones. ®

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