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FG plans anti-GSM phone theft scheme

Posted by By Jonah Iboma on 2006/07/31 | Views: 542 |

FG plans anti-GSM phone theft scheme


Nigeria may soon have a scheme that will make it possible for operators of the General System for Mobile Communications.....

Nigeria may soon have a scheme that will make it possible for operators of the General System for Mobile Communications to block stolen mobile phones from being used.

Our correspondent gathered on Sunday that the scheme, which was packaged by a group of local firms led by IDS Ventures, was submitted to the office of National Security Adviser in April 2006.

It was also learnt that the Presidency had directed the Nigerian Communications Commission to consider the possibility of implementing the scheme.

A source told our correspondent that the NCC had fixed August 30, for a public forum to explore the feasibility of the scheme .

Those to attend the forum, according to an information on NCC’s website, include telecom operating companies, consumer groups, other interested stakeholders and the general public.

If the scheme sails through, owners of mobile phones will have the opportunity to insure them and get replacements in the event of loss.

The Managing Director, UBA Insurance, Mr. Niyi Elumaro, told our correspondent that his company was one of the insurance firms interested in the scheme.

It was gathered that a number of options are being considered for the scheme, including the establishment of an independent firm to manage the database of all stolen phones and make them available to network operators.

An annual fee of about N260 will be paid by every mobile phone user in order to be part of the scheme.

The anti-theft system is designed to identify and block the International Mobile Equipment Identity of any reported stolen mobile phone from being used.

The IMEI is a number devised by the GSM Association, the global body of GSM operators to identify mobile phones. Whenever a phone call is made, IMEI is transmitted to the networks of operators in addition to the phone number of the user. It is, however, not picked up by the recipient of a call.

With IMEI, stolen mobile phone cannot be used if reported and blocked.

Under the scheme being proposed for Nigeria, stolen mobile phones will not only be blocked, they will intermitently receive specialised text Messages called Text Message BOMB from GSM operators.

The BOMB renders any handset reported stolen useless overwhelming it with carefully crafted and sequenced test messages.

It is estimated that over 20,000 GSM phones are stolen monthly in Nigeria.

As at June 2006, the number of mobile phones in the country stood at 24 million.

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