Vodafone and BT Cellnet fight phone theft

All together now...
Written by Heather McLean, Contributor on

All together now...

Vodafone and BT Cellnet are joining the rest of the UK operators in fighting mobile phone theft with the creation of a centralised database of stolen handsets. The two companies are due to announce new safety measures tomorrow following intensive talks with the Home Office relating to the department's recently released study that showed a massive 710,000 handsets were stolen in the UK last year. Vodafone spokeswoman Anna Cloke said: "We will be announcing enhancements to the Vodafone system along the same lines as the other operators, building towards making stealing a mobile phone a useless thing to do." The rest of the mobile industry is attempting to curb mobile phone theft in the UK by using technology that can trace and disable stolen mobile phones. The technology means a consumer can report the stolen device's international mobile equipment identity (IMEI) number, which is fed into the network operator's database and subsequently banned from the network. However, to be successful the initiative requires all UK operators to participate in the development of a centralised database. Up until now, Vodafone and BT Cellnet had refused to install the technology stating IMEI numbers are ineffective controllers because mobiles can be hacked and recoded, plus there are multiple IMEI numbers on networks which could cause confusion. The pair also said because their networks are much older than the other operators, the excessive time and money they would have to spend upgrading would mean the project might not be finished before the technology became obsolete. Cloke added: "At the end of the day we all need to be able to swap lists in one domain, eventually going pan-European and maybe something even bigger one day." MM02 - the parent of BT Cellnet - confirmed it would be making an announcement regarding mobile phone security tomorrow.
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