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India may block 3G services over security concerns

11 августа 2010

The Indian government on Tuesday called on the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to order mobile providers to freeze their 3G operations until services can be properly monitored by security agencies.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) sent a letter warning telecom secretary P J Thomas that the country's existing lawful intercept equipment is unable to tap into Web-based services running across 3G networks, the Business Standard reported.

"Till a solution is arrived [at], all telecom service providers may be directed not to provide 3G services, particularly in Jammu and Kashmir," said the MHA's letter.

The government's letter also supports the possibility of more direct action. "The feasibility of blocking all such services for which there is no demonstrated monitoring capability to provide lawful interception may be explored by the DoT," said the MHA.

It means India's state-run mobile operators BSNL and MTNL may have to halt their 3G operations until they have satisfied the government's security concerns. The two telcos were allotted airwaves ahead of their privately-owned rivals, which are due to be awarded spectrum in September following the country's 3G auction, which ended in May raising $14.6 billion for the government.

According to the MHA's letter, BSNL earlier demonstrated its interception systems in Jammu, but these were found wanting by the government's secu rity agencies.

The MHA's request has come at a time when the security of telecommunications in India has been subject to intense scrutiny.

The DoT is currently in negotiations with handset maker Research In Motion (RIM) over the monitoring of BlackBerry Messenger users. The encryption of RIM's data and its storage on servers based in Canada makes it impossible for local security agencies to monitor messages.

RIM's services face bans in the UAE and Saudi Arabia due to similar disputes with regulators, although Dow Jones Newswires reported on Tuesday that the latter's telco watchdog, the CITC, will allow BlackBerry Messenger services to continue after Saudi operators took steps to address its concerns.

Separately, Dow Jones Newswires reported on Monday that India's DoT has raised security issues over Telcordia's proposal to invest in a local joint venture for the purposes of rolling out mobile number portability services.

Meanwhile India is also tackling security concerns relating to network equipment imported from China. The government fears that kit made by companies like Huawei and ZTE could be embedded with spying technology and therefore poses a national security threat.

The DoT in late July made it compulsory for foreign vendors to disclose certain technical data about their network gear.

Источник: Total Telecom

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