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Telcos can roll out 3G services while monitoring is put in place: govt

Telcos can roll out 3G services while monitoring is put in place: govt
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First Published: Tue, Jan 04 2011. 07 07 PM IST
Updated: Tue, Jan 04 2011. 07 07 PM IST
New Delhi: In a move that could see gen-next mobile services including video calls being available to customers, the government on Tuesday said telecom operators can roll out 3G telephony while working on the modalities to provide monitoring facilities to the security agencies.
Responding to questions at his monthly press conference called for giving the report of home ministry for December, union home minister P Chidambaram said the Department of Telecom (DoT) and his ministry were working together in putting in place some rules and norms for intercepting or monitoring of 3G transactions in the interest of national security.
“We are putting place certain mechanisms to monitor and intercept 3G services where it become necessary on the grounds of national security.”
“The idea is not to interrupt or delay the 3G services. The idea is to allow 3G services to go forward even while monitoring mechanisms are put in place,” Chidambaram said.
“So no one need to fear that the 3G services will be interrupted or delayed,” he added.
Earlier, DoT had issued notices to a few telecom operators asking them to stop the gen-next mobile services -- 3G -- which includes video calling facility -- asking them to put on hold the new services till they adhered to security norms for its legal interception.
The DoT and central security agencies had convened a meeting of industry officials on 20 December last year and asked them to stop roll-out of 3G services till they demonstrate interception facility.
3G mobile services mainly include voice call, video calls and data services. In the data services, operators are claiming to offer high-speed internet service and required to offer monitoring facility.
The DoT had sent a letter to both TTSL and RCom asking them not to launch 3G services on commercial basis till they demonstrate lawful interception facilities.
The letter had pointed about the shortcomings in interception facilities of video calling on 3G services for the agencies which need to be addressed before their launch.
According to an exhaustive note sent by the home ministry to the DoT, a demonstration was organized by Reliance Communication, Tata Teleservices and Bharti Airtel during which the law enforcement agencies pointed out that online delivery of video call intercepts “in real time” could not be carried out by any of the telecom operators.
The contents of such calls were displayed only after five minutes of the completion of these calls as against the requirement of the agencies which want such details and interceptions on real-time basis, official sources said.
During the demonstration carried out by these telecom service providers, it came to light that long duration video calls, both incoming and outgoing, could not be intercepted, the sources had said.
“Outgoing and incoming video calls after eight minutes could not be intercepted and displayed,” they said.
The service providers are pushing the contents of the calls in raw format to the server of the agencies, which require use of decoders to view and listen to them, the sources said.
The security agencies pointed out that if interception is done on a 3G handset, only noise is heard as indication of video call.
“A conference call is not distinctly labelled. On the other hand, it is displayed as a two different outgoing calls,” the note said, adding the service providers should be directed to make provisions for proper tagging.
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First Published: Tue, Jan 04 2011. 07 07 PM IST