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What Problem? ESN History All About MEID What's the big deal?  

May 24, 2005, 12:35 PM   by Eric Lin

An in-depth look at the potential ESN crisis facing the CDMA industry.

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What if 1998 and 1999 came and went without a single news report on Y2K? Doubtless, there would have been mumblings on the web or at parties from the millions of programmers around the world, but imagine the millennium without media induced hysteria about computer systems grinding to a halt.

It's not that hard to imagine, because something not so different is happening right now. Engineers and programmers at handset manufacturers, base station equipment companies, backend service providers and carriers are all scrambling to fix a problem akin to Y2K before their clock strikes the proverbial midnight.

Like the Y2K bug, this problem is due to the poor planning of some short-sighted engineers and the efforts of those who came after them to provide backwards compatibility. Like Y2K, unless this problem is fixed systems will freeze and chaos, however minor, could ensue. But also like Y2K, it is likely that all systems will be upgraded before time runs out, and most people will look back and say "what was all the fuss about?" Only this time there's no fuss.



This forum is closed.

This forum is closed.


May 25, 2005, 2:32 PM

Just another reason...

Why Cingular is better than Verizon. Sayin' it never gets old.
I'm sure if you enjoy getting your calls dropped left and right, Cingular would seem better than Verizon... "Soft hand-off," gotta love it. Twisted Evil
One thing that is rarely discussed is that this whole mess is caused by one of the advantages of the CDMA path. CDMA allows for carriers to upgrade as they can afford to without having large sections of their footprint unavailable to some of their cus...
yeah, but I bet lying to yourself does....... Laughing

Aug 6, 2005, 1:31 AM

CDMA Worldwide

This is something that I did not realize was happening [already].

As for R-UIM, I do believe it is compatible with SIMs. I seem to think that Rogers/Fido users in Canada can use their GSM SIM in and R-UIM CDMA phone in Korea.

Now, imagine if Cingular and T-Mobile and the other GSM carriers in the U.S. were all CDMA...the problem would have accelerated out of control.

I do think it would be wise for CDG to standardize an R-UIM solution. The R-UIM would be used to authenticate the user to the network, and store information, while the MEID could be used to athenticate the phone to a working or restricted status.

However, if they opt for the easier solution now of just MEID, it will be a lot harder to change later.

May 25, 2005, 4:00 AM

SIM Cards...?

With all the MEID stuff coming into play, it seems like a REALLY GOOD TIME for US CDMA providers to get some sort of removable chip like the SIM cards on GSM phones. The only thing that lures me to GSM is the ability to change phones easily and transfer my settings without having to call customer service every time.

Something tells me that those of us enjoying CDMA won't get anything equivalent to SIM cards, though... *sigh*
Well, the technology certainly exists. It's called R-UIM. They have it in China, and some places in Latin America. And they're having to make special provisions for R-UIM with this whole MEID process.

But of course using R-UIM is up to the carriers...
Haven't seen it mentioned yet... Nextel. Case of ESNs and SIMs. But then I believe Nextel is more SIM dependent than anything, which would still require a complete switch for T/CDMA carriers.

May 24, 2005, 1:30 PM

I'll try not to think about it

This is the sort of thing that I don't want to know about (but it's damned interesting...thanks Rich!)
Gonna have to second that. Very interesting and something that effects some of us here. Thank you Eric, for giving me something else to keep me awake at night.

Jul 20, 2005, 11:47 AM

Kink in the proposed/planned system...

"Base stations would then need to be upgraded to query phones entering a cell for this code, which they never cared about before. If a phone responded with the code "on", then the cell would address all traffic to the phone using MEID, if it was still "off," the cell would continue to use an ESN"

Now, base stations, have to send/receive more information to the cell phones.

One Question:
Now that there is more "communication" between the base and the handset, I see 2 (more) problems arisiing from this:
1. Much longer time for each handset to connect to and sync with the tower
2. (Resulting from #1) More dropped calls, fewer calls on the network, lower battery life, and higher prices. (Hey, let's go back to the mid-90s).


May 25, 2005, 6:00 PM

What About TDMA Carriers?

As someone who works for one of the remaining (US) TDMA carriers, I'm interested in knowing what the solution is for TDMA providers.

If we use the pseudoESN solution, we wouldn't be able to use our fraud detection system.

If we implemented MEID (and it's not clear from the article if it's being considered for TDMA), it sounds like an expensive HLR/VLR and billing system upgrade.

Very interesting topic, Eric! Thanks for bringing it up.

Good question. You're right that this affects TDMA as much as CDMA.

But what will happen is that manufacturers simply won't be able to make new TDMA phones. That's not a big deal, since production of new TDMA phones has already dropped off to pract...
One other thing of note on topic. I wouldn't be too concerned about fraud control. Remember even if it does come to an issue of duplicating ESNs, it'd only be a DUPLICATE, as in double, as in two. What are the odds of both ESNs showing up on the same ...

May 27, 2005, 11:00 PM

Stop Worrying

Sprint has already changed call center and front end systems for use with MEID. Shocked
Technically, yes, but there's plenty more to be done.

They are certainly more prepared than Verizon. They have updated their back-end systems to deal with MEID, and they are ready for pESNs, unlike Verizon, who still has a lot of work to do before ...

May 25, 2005, 5:24 PM

Do they reuse the old esns

ok here is a good question about this. Has anyone looked into if old esn numbers are recycled? I mean it may seem obvious but I mean in the corporate scene it isnt always what is logical. I mean there has to be some way of tracking inactive esn numbers. Such as actually looking at which ones are NEVER on the network. The situeation might not be as bad as it seems. That is just my two cents.
there are a couple of reasons why ESNs can't be recycled.
first, the TIA began assigning ESNs in the 80s, when computerized records weren't exactly reliable. and many of the companies they assigned blocks of ESNs to kept even worse records, so the TI...
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