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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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188 news items

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.

The Manila Times

The Manila Times
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 06:03:45 -0800

As defined, access device means any card, plate, code, account number, electronic serial number, personal identification number, or other telecommunications service, equipment, or instrumental identifier, or other means of account access that can be ...

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 ...

Technical.ly Baltimore

Technical.ly Baltimore
Wed, 03 Dec 2014 06:02:26 -0800

Known by the trade name “Stingray,” the devices mimic cell phone towers. When the device is flipped on, all phones in the area connect to the device, allowing police to see the precise location of the phone, its electronic serial number and other ...

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 ...

IBNLive

IBNLive
Tue, 20 Jan 2015 03:34:11 -0800

"GSM mobile handsets with duplicate IMEI or fake IMEI & 'CDMA mobile handsets' with duplicate ESN (Electronic Serial Number)/MEID (Mobile Equipment Identifier) or fake ESN/MEID are added to the list of 'Prohibited' items for import," Director General ...
 
KWCH
Fri, 12 Dec 2014 19:56:15 -0800

According to the affidavit, investigators were able to track the electronic serial number back to an address Cornell McNeal had used in the past in the 1100 block of N. Parkwood. A Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit (SAECK) was used to collect DNA ...
 
NPR
Wed, 22 Oct 2014 13:32:33 -0700

NATE FREED WESSLER: They send out a signal that's more powerful than the actual cell phone towers in the area and trick every phone in the area into reporting back its identifying information, including its electronic serial number and also its location.
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