Canadian Wireless Industry Unites To Battle Smartphone Theft

by Gaurav Kheterpal on November 9, 2012

While the explosive growth of smartphone and tablet segments has been a boon for consumers, manufacturers and wireless carriers alike, the unprecedented popularity of high-end gadgets has invited unnecessary attention from thieves as well. The worst part – a large number of stolen cellphones are used as to commit other heinous crimes.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that governments and regulatory bodies all over the world have been working aggressively to tackle this serious issue. In April, the major U.S. wireless providers signed a deal with the U.S. government to build a central database of stolen cellphones—in order to help crackdown on the worrying trend of increasing thefts nationwide. In that context, though there were similar sporadic requests in Canada, neither the government nor the CRTC paid due attention to it.

At the same time, Police in Toronto publicly called on for Canada’s cell phone carriers to do more to protect customers who have their devices stolen.

However, it seems the Canadian wireless industry has finally woken up to the need of addressing this sensitive issue. The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association and Canada’s wireless carriers yesterday announced a plan of action to assist law enforcement agencies with their efforts to combat the theft of wireless devices.  To put it in simple words, it will soon be difficult for criminals to reactivate stolen devices, such as smartphones and tablets.

While I appreciate this move and it’s the case of Better late than never, a lot depends on how the CWTA and wireless carriers match their words with action.

The registry is expected to be up and running by September 2013. The CRTC lauded this initiative, adding that it would like to see the database running sooner than the proposed deadline.

Once the registry is in place, any wireless device connected to a Canadian carrier network will include verification that the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) hasn’t been reported as stolen. If the device is blacklisted, it will be denied service by all Canadian wireless carriers. The CWTA has also launched a new Web site at to educate Canadians about securing their mobile data, and measures to avoid device theft.

“After comprehensive study, Canada’s wireless industry today is announcing what it believes is the best solution to help keep Canadians safe from cell phone theft,” said CWTA President & CEO Bernard Lord. “And with U.S. wireless carriers following Canada’s planned implementation by completing similar international database measures by November 2013, customers across North America will benefit from this added level of protection.”

“The creation of a database to keep track of devices that have been lost or stolen, and collaboration within the industry to ensure they are not reactivated, will help to make cellphones less desirable to thieves. I would strongly encourage the industry to implement the database before September 2013 to ensure Canadians benefit from this added protection as soon as possible,” CRTC Chairman Jean-Pierre Blais said in the statement.

Do you think this initiative would help curb smartphone and tablet theft in Canada? Please voice your opinion by leaving a comment.

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. Follow TheTelecomBlog.comby:RSS,TwitterFacebook, or YouTube.


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