Asia Express - Mobile Communications
India's Government Urges Immediate Suspension of 3G Services over Security Concerns
August 13, 2010
India's Home Ministry recently urged the DoT (Department of Telecommunications) to release a mandatory order, whereby telecom operators holding 3G licenses will be asked to temporarily put their 3G voice and data services on hold across India, in particular in Jammu and Kashmir, the Times of India reported on August 11. The DoT stated that all telecom operators will have to install required infrastructure that allows the government to lawfully monitor, intercept, and block all 3G services when security concerns are present. This is likely to delay the launch of 3G services originally scheduled at year-end 2010 or early 2011.

This move is a result of the announcement made by India's security agencies, including the Intelligence Bureau, which claimed they have difficulties to monitor 3G voice and data services, including internet telephony such as Skype, chatting in Google Talk, and video calls. To date, India only has monitoring mechanisms in place for its 2G services. Last week, the DoT already asked two state-owned telecom operators BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited) and MTNL (Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited) to install monitoring mechanisms within 15 days, whereby allowing the government to lawfully intercept all 3G services, India's Business Standard reported on August 10.

Currently, the Intelligence Bureau is testing a solution offered by Smartphone maker RIM (Research in Motion), which allows security agencies to track emails without sharing encryption details. All the abovementioned issues are due to be discussed in a meeting called by Home Ministry on August 12, according again to the Business Standard.