Under the new system, a stolen phone wouldn't work on any network.
Smartphones these days are expensive pieces of equipment, which makes them attractive targets for thieves. However, if a new shared database from major U.S. carriers is successful, the market for stolen cell phones is about to get a whole lot smaller.
Bloomberg reports that AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon have teamed up with the FCC to launch a new stolen phone database. The database will contain serial numbers of all phones reported stolen and the four major carriers have agreed to deny service to any handset that turns up in the database.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski said that carriers are prepared to start blocking service to stolen phones within six months. They hope that this new system will discourage cell phone thieves as well as protect victims' data.