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Electronic serial numbers (ESNs) were created by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to uniquely identify mobile devices, from the days of AMPS in the United States starting in the early 1980s. The administrative role was taken over by the Telecommunications Industry Association in 1997 and is still maintained by them. ESNs are currently mainly used with CDMA phones (and were previously used by AMPS and TDMA phones), compared to International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers used by all GSM phones.[1]

The first 8 bits of the ESN was originally the manufacturer code, leaving 24 bits for the manufacturer to assign up to 16,777,215 codes to mobiles. To allow more than 256 manufacturers to be identified the manufacturer code was extended to 14 bits, leaving 18 bits for the manufacturer to assign up to 262,144 codes. Manufacturer code 0x80 is reserved from assignment and is used instead as an 8-bit prefix for pseudo-ESNs (pESN). The remaining 24 bits are the least significant bits of the SHA-1 hash of a mobile equipment identifier (MEID). Pseudo-ESNs are not guaranteed to be unique (the MEID is the unique identifier if the phone has a pseudo-ESN).

ESNs are often represented as either 11-digit decimal numbers or 8 digit hexadecimal numbers. For the decimal format the first three digits are the decimal representation of the first 8 bits (between 000 and 255 inclusive) and the next 8 digits are derived from the remaining 24 bits and will be between 00000000 and 16777215 inclusive. The decimal format of pseudo ESNs will therefore begin with 128. The decimal format separately displays 8 bit manufacturer codes in the first 3 digits, but 14 bit codes are not displayed as separate digits. The hexadecimal format displays an ESN as 8 digits and also does not separately display 14 bit manufacturer codes which occupy 3.5 hexadecimal digits.

As ESNs have essentially run out, a new serial number format, MEID, was created by 3GPP2 and was first implemented by Verizon in 2006. MEIDs are 56 bits long, the same length as the IMEI and, in fact, MEID was created to be a superset of IMEI. The main difference between MEID and IMEI is that the MEID allows hexadecimal digits while IMEI allows only decimal digits – "IMEI shall consist of decimal digits (0 through 9) only".[2]

The last of the previously unused ESN codes were allocated in November 2008.[3] Applications for assignments were accepted until June 30, 2010 using reclaimed ESN codes, those previously assigned to AMPS or TDMA phones and therefore not present on CDMA2000 systems. Reclaimed codes have also been used for UIMID assignments. Codes are assigned according to industry guidelines.[4]

Although ESN assignments may still occur in the future based on applications received before June 30, 2010, there have not been any assignments made since December 31, 2010.

References[edit]

External links[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_serial_number — Please support Wikipedia.
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179 news items

 
GlobeNewswire (press release)
Thu, 12 Mar 2015 07:26:15 -0700

Q Inside Safety Technology™ is an FDA cleared micro-transponder technology that acts as an electronic serial number enabling physicians and patients to access a secure, online database to retrieve implant-specific data, such as serial number, ...
 
Houston Press (blog)
Wed, 11 Mar 2015 05:08:06 -0700

"They're going out there and pretending to be an AT&T or Sprint tower, sending out a signal that forces all of the phones in the area to send out their electronic serial number, and then sweeping in that whole list." Plus, these things literally ...
 
Tampabay.com
Sun, 08 Mar 2015 17:45:00 -0700

That process includes checking the phone's electronic serial number, or ESN, against online databases to see whether a phone has been blacklisted — if it has been reported stolen, for example — what carriers it is compatible with and its price range.
 
National Retail Federation (press release)
Mon, 09 Mar 2015 10:37:30 -0700

For the manufacturer and the retailer it's an electronic serial number or stock keeping unit, and potentially a network address for any item related information. We have long since expected RFID to replace price tags and shipping labels with a single ...
 
Times of Oman
Mon, 02 Mar 2015 02:45:06 -0800

That process includes checking the phone's electronic serial number, or ESN, against online databases to see whether a phone has been blacklisted — if it has been reported stolen, for example — what carriers it is compatible with and its price range.

Technical.ly Baltimore

Technical.ly Baltimore
Wed, 07 Jan 2015 04:22:30 -0800

When activated, Stingrays force all cell phones in an area to connect to the device, allowing authorities to see the precise location of the phone, its electronic serial number and other information. The data helps police track suspects, but it also ...

New York Times

New York Times
Wed, 25 Feb 2015 11:38:35 -0800

That process includes checking the phone's electronic serial number, or ESN, against online databases to see whether a phone has been blacklisted — if it has been reported stolen, for example — what carriers it is compatible with and its price range.

Charlotte Observer

Charlotte Observer
Sat, 22 Nov 2014 15:48:17 -0800

She said the orders compel mobile carriers to provide CMPD with the electronic serial number assigned to each phone. Police can learn a suspect's general location because the orders require carriers to tell officers which cellphone tower is receiving ...
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