Monday, January 26, 2009

Yar’Adua to commission anti-theft mobile device

All is now set for the official commissioning of the nation’s multimillion Naira anti-theft mobile phone initiative being super-headed by the regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in collaboration with NetVisa GSMSecured Nigeria Limited, by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.

The process which commenced three years ago, had undergone successful relevant trials, thus ready for launch.

Chief executive officer, NetVisa, Prince Emeka Uchendu, told Daily Champion at the weekend that the initiative would be commissioned on Tuesday, January 27, this year, at the Yar’Adua Conference Centre, Abuja, the federal capital territory, even as registration of stolen phones would be free-of-charge.

According to him, the initiative slated to be officially opened by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, was conceived by the government through NCC, and was put in place by NetVisa GSMSecured Limited, in affiliation with the global operators group, the GSM Association (GSMA) and Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON).
Uchendu also said that the commissioning would pave the way for the full implementation of the project by all mobile operators in the country, through enabling telecom operators to be wary of stolen phones and block same when eventually it is appropriately reported by their owners.

“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,” he said.

The NetVisa boss, equally said, that the need for the solution arose the primary concern of the regulator, which in turn 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 declared.

To this effect, he said, NetVisa has deployed a Central Equipment Identity Registry (CEIR) and is ready to implement this for the benefit of all Nigerians.

Uchendu pointed out that the kind of registry, presently deployed by Nigeria is the first of its kind in continent of Africa, although he was quick to add that there is a similar registry already existing precisely in Dublin, South Africa, but noted that it has not been successfully implemented to totally checkmate the predicament of stolen mobile phones.

“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.

Disclosing that as from next 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.

He estimated that about 1million mobile phones are stolen annually since the coming of GSM into the country 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.

And to further safeguard mobile phones, he said that in the past 10 years, the International Mobile Equipment Identifier (IMEI) embedded by manufacturers no longer come in Random Access Memory (RAM), but Read Only Memory (ROM), hence the CEIR installed have the capacity to block any modem phone reported stolen among mobile operators, 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, stressing 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.

Uchendu, accompanied by some officials of his firm, including the company secretary, Ms Amaka Ekweozor, Executive Director, Finance and Admin, Mr. Olayinka Giwa and Mr. Grema Abubakar, made it clear that subscribers are not supposed to pay any other additional money in order to be registered in the CEIR since they have paid for the Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) pack at inception.

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