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ESN Full Form

Last Updated : 12 May, 2023
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ESN stands for Electronic Serial Number History : ESN was assigned by U.S Federal Communications Commission generally known as FCC in United States in early 1980’s, and were originally used for very first analog mobile phone technology named as AMPS. ESN and a Mobile Identification Number (MIN) are both automatically transmitted to wireless network each time phone is used, which associates that phone with subscriber’s account and phone number. There maybe some occurrence in future based on applications received before 30th June 2010, although from recent research its seen that there have been no such assignments made further since 31st December 2010. Administrations was taken over by Telecommunications Industry Association in 1997. In 2006, manufacturers started running out of unique ESNs, requiring a transition to new MEID standard to replace ESN. Definition : An electronic serial number (ESN) is a unique identification number embedded by manufacturers on a microchip in wireless phones. ESNs are currently mainly used with Code-division multiple access (CDMA) phones, compared to International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers used by all The Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) phones. (ESN) is actually a 32-bit serial number assigned to each mobile device to identify each one of them, uniquely, by the manufacturers. ESN is typically found on label under cellular phone’s battery. Purposes of ESN :

  • The purpose of the ESN is to automatically transmit data to base station when a call is made. Further carrier’s mobile switching office detects ESN and ensures validity of the call to prevent fraud.
  • The ESN differs from mobile identification number (MIN), which is the wireless carrier’s identifier for a phone in the network. MINs and ESNs can be electronically checked to help prevent fraud.

Structure of ESN:

  • The ESN consists of a 32-bit binary number, with the first eight bits being a manufacturer code and the remaining 24 bits serving as a unique identifier for the device.
  • The manufacturer code identifies the company that produced the device, while the unique identifier distinguishes the device from other devices produced by the same manufacturer.
  • The ESN can also be represented in hexadecimal format, which uses the digits 0-9 and letters A-F to represent the 32-bit binary number.
  • Example: 


Applications of ESN :

  • ESNs are used as a tool for tracking phones and when need be, banning phones from network. This is very useful in case of theft. If your cell phone is stolen, you can track the cell with it’s unique ESN and can get it blocked if needed.
  • A network service provider company maintains list of ESNs of stolen phones. Such phones are said to be bad ESN phone.

Advantages :

  • Boost Efficiency : It Provides higher level of efficiency, as each item is locate and track down.
  • Prevent Fraud : You’ll be able to ensure that the call that you are receiving is already checked through carrier’s mobile switching office which has detected ESN and provided validity.
  • Fewer connector pins are used, improving board area utilization and reliability.
  • An ESN can also be used to prove that a certain mobile device was used to make or receive a call.
  • ESN can also be used for manufacturer tracking for inventory and warranty claims.

Disadvantages :

  • Speed – It is slow to query data and if you are trying to use it during start up it can delay you starting as the ESN service takes up a long time to come up.
  • Using RF to capture serial numbers will require that you maintain the RF infrastructure (network and hardware), plus software management (ITS Mobile). This adds costs to the business for both IT and the warehouse
  • Customization always means maintenance costs with IT and inefficiencies/errors in programming could impact the business.
  • The flipside of ESN is that an added level of transactional compliance is demanded, where warehouse operatives must perform additional scans or entries to accurately capture relevant data. If manually entering the serial numbers, this presents multiple additional opportunities for mistakes to be made.

ESN Replacement:

  • ESNs have largely been replaced by International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers, which are longer and more complex.
  • IMEI numbers serve a similar function to ESNs, but they are less vulnerable to cloning and spoofing. 
  • Some older cellular networks still use ESNs, but most modern networks have transitioned to IMEI numbers.

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