*To curb stolen mobile devices
TELECOMMUNICA-TIONS operators in the country have endorsed the last week’s launch of the Central Equipment Identity Registry (CEIR) to checkmate the avalanche of stolen phones by the Federal Government.
The multimillion Naira anti-theft mobile phone scheme was spear-headed by the regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in collaboration with NetVisa GSMSecured Nigeria Limited and was commissioned by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
Reacting to the official commencement of practical effort at curbing mobile phone theft, the operators under the aegis of Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) told Champion Infotel in a Short Messaging Service (SMS) chat that they endorsed holistically the project which was commissioned last Tuesday, at Yar’Adua Conference Centre, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja.
“Yes, we did (endorse it),” ALTON chairman, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo said.
He also confirmed that his group had been working with the government and licensee, the NetVisa GSMSecured Nigeria Limited to ensure a worthy process.
“We have been through a process with them,” he declared, stressing that the buttom line is that it would massively benefit the subscribers and give a boost to the telecommunications sector in the country.
“We endorse the initiative in the interest of our subscribers and the telecom industry,” he enthused.
Commenting earlier, the chief executive officer, NetVisa, Prince Emeka Uchendu said the process took three years to accomplish at this point and went through successful trials.
The initiative, he said, though put together by his firm, is in relationship with the global operators group, the GSM Association (GSMA) and Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON).
Also, he noted that with the commissioning done with, it has paved the way for the full implementation of the project by all mobile operators in the country, via facilitating operators’ readiness to guard against stolen phones and subsequently bar such devices when it is appropriately proved and reported by their rightful owners.
According to him, “The task of combating the menace of stolen phones in Nigeria is enormous and has risen to become a very frightening and national issue, mostly when a lot of lives are wasted everyday in the bid for criminals to steal mobile phones.”
Uchendu emphasized that the need for the solution propelled the primary concern of the regulator, NCC, which rose to the occasion to call for expression of interest and eventually licensed his firm after due process.
“In the past three years, we, at NetVisa have been working with mobile network operators to put a system in place that will curtail the theft of mobile phones in Nigeria and the regional West African countries,” he asserted.
This process, he said, culminated in the deployment of a Central Equipment Identity Registry (CEIR) and is ready to implement this for the benefit of all Nigerians.
“It is for the social well-being of all Nigerians who use mobile phones,” he said, encouraging subscribers in the country to ensure they promptly report theft of their phones, especially mobiles to the nearest police station and their network operator.
Revealing that beginning from this month, February 2009, Nigeria would be able to block effectively any stolen mobile phone certified by the operators as may be reported by the owner with relevant evidence to support the claim so as to avoid frivolous claims.
He, however, estimated that about 1million mobile phones are stolen every year since the commencement of the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) in 2001.
Uchendu, therefore, cautioned that at the beginning, the second hand phones would be waived from immediate blocking, since they may not have been stolen originally from this part of the world, but warned that in the months to come, this would change as the regulation would become stiff.
He explained that the last 10 years has seen the International Mobile Equipment Identifier (IMEI) embedded by manufacturers in the mobile devices changing from Random Access Memory (RAM) to Read Only Memory (ROM), hence the CEIR installed have the capacity to block any modern phone reportedly stolen among mobile operators globally; rendering such phones useless in Nigeria.
“What this means is that with ROM, the IMEI numbers are visible but cannot be altered and any attempt could result in damaging the phone,” he explained, enlightening that IMEI is a 15 digit code transmitted to the network each time a subscriber attempts to make call on a given network from a mobile handset, even as it is free to register stolen.
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