Feeds

North Americans just don't steal handsets, apparently...

Rogers dodgers

Boost IT visibility and business value

Back in 2005, when he lost his three-day-old Motorola v 635, Pete Gillespie immediately phoned his cell provider, Canada's Rogers Wireless. Among other things, he urged the cellco giant to blacklist the phone's IMEI number so that miscreants couldn't reconnect his $600 purchase to the Canadian airwaves. But the company said it didn't do such things.

Then, just this week, Gillespie lost a second phone: his Blackberry 8820. And three years on, Rogers again said it doesn't do IMEI blacklisting. "They won't trace the IMEI in any way to see if the phone is back on the network, and if there's a GPS in the phone, they won't use that to recover the thing," Gillespie tells The Reg. "They just say that these are things their network does not support."

Among North American wireless providers, Rogers is not alone. Though most of western Europe has spent the past several years blacklisting the IMEI numbers of lost and stolen phones, US and Canadian providers continue to ignore the practice.

"Presently, we don't have any North American operators connected to our [IMEI blacklist] database," says James Moran, fraud and security director of the GSM Association (GSMA). "When we've raised the issue with these operators in the past, what they've said is that handset theft has not been an issue North America - or least not to the same degree it has been in Europe and the rest of the world."

This is not an argument Moran is inclined to believe. But he does say that just this week, a Canadian provider phoned him to "express interest" in IMEI blacklisting. "Though we haven't heard anything from the US," he added.

Scandinavian operators have been sharing stolen handset data since the mid-nineties. And early this decade, the GSMA standardized the practice, urging member companies to blacklist according to the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number that uniquely identifies each GSM and 3G handset. That includes North American members. But six years on, they've yet fall in line.

Nonetheless, a Rogers spokeswoman tells us the company "is very concerned about the trends in handset theft and its impact to our handset manufacturing partners, our distribution channels and our customers." The company also says its "always reviewing its policies." But at the moment, those policies are behind the times.

This morning, when Pete Gillespie spoke to someone from Rogers "Customer Relations" team, she confirmed that any lost or stolen could easily be reactivated on the company's network. But she also told Gillespie it was his responsibility to lock his own phone. "When I told her that a simple re-flashing of the phone would remove any such locks," Gillespie says, "she did not have much of a response."

More importantly, IMEI blacklisting would discourage handset theft. But North American providers aren't likely to acknowledge this unless they first acknowledge that handsets do indeed get stolen. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Canadian ISP Shaw falls over with 'routing' sickness
How sure are you of cloud computing now?
Don't call it throttling: Ericsson 'priority' tech gives users their own slice of spectrum
Actually it's a nifty trick - at least you'll pay for what you get
Three floats Jolla in Hong Kong: Says Sailfish is '3rd option'
Network throws hat into ring with Linux-powered handsets
Fifteen zero days found in hacker router comp romp
Four routers rooted in SOHOpelessly Broken challenge
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
PwC says US biz lagging in Internet of Things
Grass is greener in Asia, say the sensors
Ofcom sees RISE OF THE MACHINE-to-machine cell comms
Study spots 9% growth in IoT m2m mobile data connections
O2 vs Vodafone: Mobe firms grab for GCHQ, gov.uk security badge
No, the spooks love US best, say rival firms
Ancient pager tech SMS: It works, it's fab, but wow, get a load of that incoming SPAM
Networks' main issue: they don't know how it works, says expert
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.