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Central Equipment Identity Registry (CEIR) System
Prof. Dr. Hasan AMCA
Prof. of Wireless - Mobile Communications,
Member of Electronic and Wireless Communications Regulatory Body
The Neeed for a Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR) System
The number of mobile communication devises has shown a drastic increase over the last two decades throughout the world. With the expansion of wireless and wireline communication network infrastructure and the number and functionality of smartphones and tablets, access to individual and corporate data services has also been significantly enhanced. According to ITU, the noticeable growth in the capacity and number of broadband wireless communication devices has introduced a serious security challenge with regard to theft of these devices as well as unauthorised access to personal data and other data security issues. Statistics have shown that, 2 Million phones are stolen out of 290 Million phones in USA every year according to National Geographic report where 90% of people own a mobile phone. This sums up to 0.7% of mobile phones gets stolen every year. In UK, the number of incidents involving mobile phone theft increased from 100 000 in 1993 to 600 000 in 2013, a six-fold increase.
In addition to discouraging theft of the mobile equipment, the CEIR system will help the national security authorities by tracking the whereabouts of particular mobile equipment throughout the coverage area. It should be noted here that, despite the ITU regulations, the supposedly unique International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number can be illegally copied and multiple phones having the same IMEI number can be found in a country. However, if there is a central database where all mobile equipment are registered with their IMEI numbers, only one mobile equipment with that particular IMEI number will be found in a particular coverage area. There are many reported cases where national security authorities come across tens or even hundreds of copies of the same IMEI while tracking a particular phone. A CEIR system will not register more than one incident of a particular IMEI number.
The only technique that service providers and regulators can employ to protect against mobile phone theft is called the Mobile Equipment Identity Register (MEIR) or Central Equipment Identity Register System (CEIR). The CEIR is a computer platform where a database is used to store all mobile communication devices that are allowed to operate within a network. The CEIR database also contains records of all mobile equipment that are banned from operating within the network due to device being reported as lost or stolen.
In this report, the features and advantages of the CEIR system will be summarised along with the need for establishing such a CEIR platform within a country will be discussed.
Operation of the Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR)
Each mobile communication device is distinctly identified by a number called International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number. Every time a call is started, the Mobile Switching Center (MSC) requests the IMEI number of the mobile device from the base station (BS). The IMEI database of legal and authorized mobile devices within a network are stored in what is called the Equipment Identity Register (EIR). The EIR database categorises all mobile phones as black, gray, and white mobile equipment which are defined below:
Black: The Mobile Equipments on the Black List are denied access to the network.
Gray: The Mobile Equipments on the Gray List are allowed access to the network, but may be tracked by the authorities.
White: The Mobile Equipments on the White List are allowed access to the network.
When the IMEI is received by the MSC, then an authentication process is triggered to check against the EIR database for authorization.
As the number of mobile equipments continue to grow, they possibility of fraudulent and criminal activities also increases. The EIR has the advantage of reducing and discouraging mobile device theft threats by enabling individual operators to prevent the use of stolen handsets in their own networks. This improves users' security by switching off stolen phones, making them useless (bricked) for mobile phone thieves and thus less likely to be stolen in the first place.
The advantages of using The Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR) System
There are many obvious advantages for installing and using such a sophisticated system as CEIR. The Mobile Equipment Identity Register (CEIR:
Provides a database for the operators on the capabilities of the handset devices which can help to know the capabilities of the subscribers devices.
Provide device security within the network.
Provides brand enhancement for being morally and socially more responsible.
Boost device security for the subscriber. Operators may charge marginal annual premium and thus an alternate revenue stream.
Deter handset theft and mobile crimes.
Block handsets for national interest (threat to national security) as well as customer interest (device theft).
Holding on to customers thus reducing bad debts.
Roll out new value added services based on the customer handset capabilities.
Build business strategies based on customer preference of devices used.
Promotional offers for customers using particular devices.
Pushing right content to the customer, increasing usage for customer revenue for Operator.
Support for Roaming subscribers.
Many countries have implemented national EIRs to discourage mobile device theft. For example, the mobile industry crime action forum (MICAF) was formed as a result of a resolution made between the UK Police, UK Government and the telecommunications Industry in the UK. Its main focus is to exchange information and to promote a united effort against criminal activity in telecommunications field. Turkey has also established a central CEIR. In Africa not many countries have arranged for such CEIR system. In this report, a proposal for establishing CEIR system will be presented.
Proposal to Establish CEIR Database
Many Middle East and African countries with relatively large population and high mobile equipment penetration rates (total number of mobile equipments used in a region divided by the population living in the region) have multiple mobile network service providers with no CEIR established by the providers or the telecommunication authorities. Establishing such services would benefit local communication market by boosting security of mobile device and deterring theft operations. In addition, illegal entry of the mobile equipment in the country without paying the required taxes will also be stopped and the government will benefit by collecting these taxes. Consumers will be encouraged to sign up for service with provider that offers protection of personal devices. The current usage models and applications of smart phones where devices have become an essential device not only for communication but for wide range of applications extending from medical and general health monitoring activities to diary collections and important personal information and records.
In a particular host country, if the naighboring countries do not have their own CEIR, then the host country gains an excellent opportunity to step in and become a provider of CEIR service to its neighbors in addition to its local population. There are many motivating and beneficial factors that can play in favour of such a proposal, such as:
Wide spread and robust connectivity between neighbors
Boosting trade and services exchange
Market place expansion for communication services and mobile device trade and re-sale.
Enhancing security and information sharing
The CEIR systems can be established and funded solely by the host governments communication authority or through collaborative and financial sharing between the local operators or with the operators in the neighboring countries.
This document summarizes a description of the Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR) system and its usage model and features. It has been noted that due to expansion of mobile device used for communications and services, device theft incidents has proportionally increased. The two recorded cases of recent theft incident statistics in UK and USA due to introduction of smartphone devices to the market are also given as an indication of severity of the theft problem. Many countries have establishing their CEIR system to provide protection against theft crime increase such as in UK, USA and Turkey. It is mentioned that many Middle East, African and Asian countries still lacking such CEIR systems and hence theft and used of stolen mobile devices are wide spread. A proposal of establishing CEIR in a country is presented where several encouraging factors such as central location, many neighboring countries and large mobile user base is noted. Advantages of establishing CEIR system would be beneficial to its own population as well as service can be extended to its neighbor mobile device user base.
2. Mustafa Ahmed Elgasem Mustafa1, Dr. Amin Babiker A/Nabi Mustafa2, Dr. Ashraf A. Osman, The Equipment Identity Register (EIR) Advantages for Developing Countries- Sudan as a Case Study, International Journal of Engineering, Applied and Management Sciences Paradigms, Vol. 23, Issue 01 Publishing Month: April 2015 An Indexed and Referred Journal ISSN (Online): 2320-6608, www.ijeam.com