New Zealand operators block stolen phones

Mobile operators in New Zealand have joined forces to clamp down on the use of stolen handsets in the country. Vodafone, Telecom and 2degrees have worked together over the past year to develop a blacklisting system, which gives each operator the ability to block the IMEI number of a mobile device that has been reported as stolen across all three networks.

The initiative, led by the New Zealand Telecommunications Forum (TCF)  uses a central database hosted by trade body the GSMA. When blacklisted, a handset becomes useless on all three major mobile networks, even if the thief changes the SIM or switches provider. The Forum said that this is usually enabled within 24 hours of the handset being reported stolen.

Chief Executive of the TCF David Stone hailed the initiative as a great example of cross-industry collaboration. “Mobile phones have become more and more important to us over the past few years. For many people, their mobile is not just a phone – it is also their camera, watch, diary, encyclopaedia, map and social organiser. This makes smartphones very desirable items, but unfortunately it also makes them a prime target for thieves. The blacklisting system aims to address this problem,” he said.

Superintendent Steve Christian, national manager mobility for New Zealand Police also welcomed the blacklisting system.

“This is a great leap forward because there has, until now, been a significant gap in this area,” he said. “We are pleased the telcos are now joining together to render stolen devices as being of no value on the streets.”

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