UK mobile operators Vodafone and mmO2 are planning to employ technology that allows stolen handsets to be traced and barred. Previously, the operators had said it would be too expensive to implement the system, which uses a phone’s unique IMEI (international mobile equipment identity) number.
The UK’s other two mobile operators, Orange and One2One, already keep databases of IMEI numbers and block stolen handsets. Now, all four companies are likely to team up and create a central database of all the handsets in the UK.
Vodafone and mmO2’s change of heart, due to be announced on Friday, is likely to be due to pressure from the UK government after a study showed that 710,000 mobile handsets were stolen in the UK in 2001.