Telecom, Vodafone, 2degrees launch blacklist for stolen phones - finally

TCF boss David Stone

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Telecom, Vodafone and 2degrees have finally launched a blacklisting system for lost or stolen mobile devices.

Police say it will help prevent crime by making mobiles less attractive to thieves.

The three companies have worked together over the past year to develop the blacklisting system, which gives each operator the ability to block the IMEI number (unique identification code) of a mobile device that has been reported as stolen across all three networks, usually within 24 hours.

The system is based on international best practice, and uses a central database hosted by the GSMA – the international body representing the mobile industry.

If blacklisted, a mobile device will be useless on all three major mobile networks, even if the thief (or whoever receives the goods from the thief) changes the SIM or switches provider.

Chief Executive of the Telecommunications Carriers Forum David Stone says the initiative was a great example of cross-industry collaboration and would bring real benefits for customers, and for the community as a whole (all three phone companies belong to the TCF).

Technical issues have previously held up 2degrees joining Telecom and Vodafone in the IMEI intiative.

Top 5 tips for keeping your mobile phone secure

  • If you lose your phone or you think it has been stolen, report this as soon as possible to your mobile provider. One phone call will ensure your SIM is barred from working and your handset is blocked across Telecom’s, Vodafone’s and 2degree’s networks – usually within 24 hours. The numbers to call for each mobile operator are: Vodafone: 0800 800 021 | Telecom: 123 | 2degrees: 0800 022 022
  • Be careful where you leave your phone – avoid café tables, bars, or having it hanging out of your pocket. 
  • Put a PIN, password or other form of security on your phone and set it to automatically lock, so that only you can access calling, texting and other applications.
  • Only purchase new or second hand phones from trustworthy sources – such as registered mobile dealers.
  • Install an application like Find My Phone, which will allow you to track the phone over WiFi if you lose it.

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3 Comments & Questions

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This is a great initiative and one that will really make life difficult for phone thieves.

I don't think there's been any chain dragging, in particular I think it's unfair to single out 2D in this regard. Don't forget, until fairly recently Telecom phones wouldn't work on Vodafone's network and vice versa so there was no need for a unified database.

Now that all three providers are on the same tech platform it's vital so it's good to see the three operators get this off the ground, especially before Christmas. There are 416 mobile phones on sale on Trade Me at the moment - From here on in we can be sure none of them are stolen.

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There actually was a database between VF and Telecom up until a year or so ago that 2D refused to join.
For some reason it was shut down and has now been replaced with, thankfully, one shared by all operators.

see various threads on geekzone about it

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That's incorrect - Vodafone and Telecom had their own separate databases, with limited sharing of data that had ended some time ago. 2degrees has had its own EIR (Equipment Identity Register) and been blocking stolen handsets for the past year.

What changed this week was that the three mobile operators launched a joint industry database, so stolen handsets won't work on any NZ mobile network.

Each operator still has its own EIR, which is needed so each can block/unblock handsets.


Mat Bolland
Director of Corporate Affairs & Wholesale

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