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Preventing the theft of mobile phones, agreement between mobile operators

03/09/2002 - 12:00 PM

An agreement has been reached between Blu, Omnitel Vodafone, TIM and Wind to compile a joint black list of stolen (or lost) mobile phones in order to make them unserviceable on all the Italian mobile networks. The agreement was reached thanks to the cooperation between the four operators who set up a working group to implement a joint system for blocking stolen mobile phones. Every customer whose mobile is stolen or lost can forward a direct request to his or her operator along with a police report attesting to the mobile´s loss. This block, which supplements the already-operative prohibition on the use of telephone numbers, will be gradually phased in on all the networks of all four mobile operators in Italy, thus making it impossible to make use of stolen handsets within the Italian territory.
The working party now has to handle the task of making the agreement operative. In technical terms blocking mobile phones means blocking the IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) code, the code used in every handset sold in the market and usually associated with a SIM card (Subscriber Identification Module) containing the telephone number assigned a customer. Hitherto stolen handsets could be easily recycled simply by inserting a new SIM card with a new number, given that the original SIM is usually blocked at the customer´s request.
Mobile phone customers are reminded that the IMEI code of their mobiles is clearly indicated on a series of yellow adhesive labels included in the package at the moment of purchase, as well as in the phone itself. Consequently, it is recommended that the code be kept in a secure place but easily retrievable in case of theft or loss.
The initiative is designed to discourage the theft of mobile phones, although this phenomenon is not particularly significant in Italy and has never reached the levels of other European countries. The Italian operators are among the first in Europe to develop such a nationwide agreement. This is a spontaneous initiative by the Italian operators. The major investments required will not generate revenue for the operators as they are for the exclusive benefit of customers, and more in general for the society as a whole, as the operators´ contribution to the fight against petty crime