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Commitment to a Safer Mobile Environment

Mobile Operators Pledge to Tackle Mobile Phone Theft and Promote Greater User Accessibility

Mobile operators have announced a series of new initiatives as part of the WeCare Costa Rica campaign run by the GSMA to provide a safer and more reliable environment for all mobile users. Operators Claro, ICE and Telefónica will work together to fight mobile phone theft as well as facilitate greater accessibility for consumers with disabilities with the support of Costa Rica’s telecoms regulator, Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones (Sutel), and the Deputy Ministry of Telecommunications.

There are currently more than 7.6 million mobile connections in Costa Rica, of which almost 37 per cent are smartphone connections1. 4G deployment is also rapidly expanding and is forecast to leap from 126,000 connections at the end of 2015 to more than two million by 2020.

“Strong growth in the Costa Rican mobile market demonstrates how mobile technology can be put to good use by working proactively to help solve some of the country’s social problems,” said Sebastián Cabello, Head of GSMA Latin America.

Today in San José, a letter of commitment was signed between Carlos Ríos Briceño, Country Manager at Claro Costa Rica; Jaime Palermo Quesada, Head of Telecommunications at ICE; Jorge Abadía, Country Manager at Telefónica Costa Rica; Gilbert Camacho Mora, President of the Board at Sutel; Emilio Arias Rodríguez, Deputy Minister of Telecommunications of Costa Rica; and Sebastián Cabello on behalf of the GSMA.

The latest initiatives to form part of the WeCare Costa Rica campaign include:

Reducing Handset Theft

Handset theft is one of the most common crimes in Costa Rica; in March 2012 it became the first country in Latin America to connect all its mobile operators to the GSMA’s International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) database2, which shares information about stolen mobile phones globally.

In the latest move to tackle mobile device theft and trafficking between countries, Sutel today agreed to implement GSMA’s IMEI Device Check. This system will enable Costa Rican consumers to check the Sutel website in real time when buying a handset, to see whether it appears on the global list of stolen mobile devices. The blacklist on the GSMA IMEI database is updated every day through reports from more than 100 operators around the world, including 45 operators in 16 Latin American countries.

Supporting Disabled Consumers

According to data from 20113, almost 11 per cent (452,859) of the Costa Rican population has some kind of disability and requires support to improve their quality of life. Claro, ICE and Telefónica signed an agreement with the Mobile Manufacturers Forum to improve access from their websites to the data system of the Global Accessibility Reporting Initiative (GARI)4. The system enables users to identify mobile handsets in their area that offer services designed to assist users with disabilities.

The three mobile operators also agreed to continue exploring further activities of common interest that could help to improve citizens’ quality of life, as a second phase of the WeCare Costa Rica campaign. In 2014, mobile operators waived call charges to the 1147 child helpline, run by Patronato Nacional de la Infancia (National Child Welfare Institute - PANI).

Emilio Arias Rodriguez, Deputy Minister of Telecommunications of Costa Rica: “Mobile penetration has reached 151 per cent in Costa Rica, and this trend is set to continue. In this context, and as we work to build an integrated, inclusive and caring society, it is essential to keep taking action to enable every citizen, without exception, to have access to affordable, quality telecommunications services through the development of infrastructure that supports sustainable, efficient, secure and robust mobile networks. These networks will also be key to enabling people to develop their skills and knowledge, in particular those people who are the most vulnerable, through productive, safe and meaningful use of these tools."

Jaime Palermo, Telecommunications Manager, ICE: “These initiatives reaffirm our commitment with actions to help support the efforts of the Costa Rican government to ensure better security and increased accessibility of services for the entire population. In ICE we believe that technology is key to economic and social development and should contribute to the protection of the rights of Costa Ricans.”

Carlos Rios Briceño, Country Director, Claro Costa Rica: "Claro’s philosophy is to be part of the solutions to the needs of our customers. We care about the lives of Costa Ricans, which is why we are celebrating this agreement for WeCare Costa Rica. We trust that this will be the start of many steps towards improving the quality of life of mobile users.”

Jose Pablo Rivera, Regulatory Manager, Telefónica Movistar Costa Rica: "Telefónica Movistar joined the WeCare Costa Rica campaign because we strongly believe that ICTs are key to improving people’s quality of life. For past three years, we have worked closely with 800 operators worldwide to block stolen mobile phones and to discourage these types of crimes from being committed. This agreement allows us to support Costa Rica through Telefónica Group’s various initiatives in the area of disability and which aim to promote social inclusion."

Gilbert Camacho, President, Sutel: "One of Sutel’s objectives is the protection of users’ rights. This led to us signing an agreement with the GSMA in 2012 to discourage the theft of mobile phones; in fact Costa Rica was the first Latin American country to implement the initiative. Today we are taking a further step to provide new tools for users to combat this problem. We believe that through initiatives like WeCare Costa Rica, we can build a better country."