" ITREALMS: Only 2 African countries can blacklist stolen phones - GSMA

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Only 2 African countries can blacklist stolen phones - GSMA

Out of the over 217 Global System for Mobile communications compliant nations worldwide, only two African countries can safely shun the usage of stolen phones on GSM networks within its territories.

This was contained in a statistical data made available to our correspondent by the Global System for Mobile Association (GSMA), which certified only two African countries as where stolen phones cannot be used.

GSMA is a global trade association representing over 700 GSM mobile phone operators and over 180 manufacturers and suppliers in 217 territories and countries.

The document tagged the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) DataBase (IMEI-DB) indicated that only South Africa and Kenya are currently the African countries where stolen phones cannot be accessible on any given GSM networks.

GSMA said that out of its 217 country members, 40 were certified as being IMEI-database compliant including the two African countries.

Equally on the compliant list are Belgium, Chile, Cyprus, Czech, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom.

In Africa, there are 54 countries most of which have since began to enjoy the advent of GSM including Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal to name a few.

Nigeria for instance, has over 34 million GSM subscribers currently which has been described as the fastest growing GSM market on the continemt.

Also, GSMA said that the provision of IMEI database has become crucial so as to assist in combing handset theft globally, stressing that since 2002 that number of GSM and 3G devices lost, stolen or find unsuitable for use, have remained on the increase, which was attributed to attractive devices.

However, experts at GSMA said that IMEI is a 15-digit number used in identifying the device when it is used on a GSM mobile phone network.

“The IMEI must be unique for each GSM device, so there is need to be a way of managing allocations of IMEIs to handset manufacturers to ensure that no two devices are made with the same IMEI,” the group said, hence the GSMA performs this role.

Noting that the primary goals of GSMA is to guarantee mobile phones and wireless services work globally and are easily accessible, thereby enhancing their value to individual customers and national economies.

Currently there are over 2 billion customers on GSM and 3G devices, and an estimated 82 per cent of the world's mobile phone users.

Founded in 1987, the GSMA plays a crucial role in development of the GSM platform and the global wireless industry, with peculiar focus on emerging services and emerging markets.

The GSMA helps its members develop and launch new services, ranging from mobile instant messaging to video sharing to mobile Internet access, which will work across networks and across national boundaries.

At the same time, the GSMA is heavily engaged in the industry’s push to extend basic voice and text services to more people in emerging markets.

The GSM family of technologies consists of General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE) and third generation GSM services (3GSM) based on Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (W-CDMA) and High Speed Downlink Data Packet Access (HSDPA) technologies.

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