labels: Telecom
Tata Tele to launch BlackBerry services amidst government curbs news
21 April 2008

Mumbai: Tata Teleservices (TSL) has decided to go ahead with the launch of BlackBerry services for its customers even as the government banned certain services offered by BlackBerry and the security issue is far from solved in India.

Tata Tele cited ''significant loss of business opportunity and recurring revenues'' due to the government's delay in approving its proposed tie-up with Research in Motion's (RIM) Blackberry services, for its decision to go ahead with launching the services for its subscribers.

The Blackberry issue had come to the limelight after Tata Teleservices sought government approval for launch of the services.

Tata Tele was also the only operator to seek government permission to launch the services as other operators like Airtel, Vodafone and Reliance had launched the services without seeking government approval.
 
 ''As you are aware, various operators have been offering BlackBerry services to their customers since a number of years. However, TTSL has got stranded after we applied for clearance, resulting in a significant loss of business opportunity and recurring revenues for last quite a few months,''  TTSL wrote in a letter to the department of telecom.

''We do appreciate that there are security concerns and concerns on the subject of lawful interception. We, however, feel that having followed procedures to seek approvals we can't be suffering vis--vis such operators who never sought such clearances,'' the letter added.

The government has, meanwhile, issued a directive to telecom operators not to provide "certain" BlackBerry services until such a time monitoring systems are put in place.
 
 "Instructions have been issued to all mobile service providers, inter alia, asking them not to connect or provide/run certain BlackBerry services unless the required monitoring systems are in place,." minister of state for communications and IT, Jyotiraditya Scindia, told parliament.

What is implied by "certain" is not exactly known though industry sources reveal that emails sent from one BlackBerry to another may be barred.
 
The government's move comes on the heels of repeated concerns raised by national security agencies over the potential risk posed by BlackBerry usage since calls and emails exchanged between BlackBerry devices cannot be intercepted as the servers are based in Canada.

The government has already asked BlackBerry licensor Research in Motion (RIM) to route all its calls and emails via servers based in India so that security agencies are able to read these and ensure their not being misused by terrorist and anti-national outfits.
 
Meanwhile, RIM officials are reported to have sought time till the end of this month to explain their position and address issues voiced by the government.
 
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) director-general T V Ramachandran said, "We will abide by whatever the government requires. We have no issue". Although Ramachandran hasn't quite said whether services will be disrupted on account of the directive.
 
BlackBerry services are offered in the country by Airtel, Reliance Communications, Vodafone Essar, and BPL Mobile. While there are no official numbers available, India is believed to have an estimated more than half a million BlackBerry users.


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Tata Tele to launch BlackBerry services amidst government curbs