Tata Teleservices (TTSL) has decided to proceed with the rollout of BlackBerry services, without waiting for the government permission.
The company has told the government the delay was costing it “significant loss of business opportunity and recurring revenues.”
The company’s step is significant as it was TTSL’s application seeking permission to launch the BlackBerry services that alerted the government that the services gave no means for lawful interception. The department if telecommunication had therefore denied TTSL permission to start the services.
Other operators like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar, BPL and Reliance Communications currently offer BlackBerry services. Apparently, these companies never sought the government’s approval for launching the services.
The operators maintain that around the time they launched the services there was no specific provision mandating an approval. However, the officials contest the point.
In a recent communication to the department of telecommunications (DoT)—a copy of which is with FE—TTSL has written, “we are proceeding with the rollout of BlackBerry services and undertake that whatever solution is arrived at by the government through its deliberations with the BlackBerry suppliers and the operators currently offering such services will be applicable to us also, in the manner that it is made applicable to the other operators.”
The letter written by TTSL’s president, corporate affairs, Ashok Sud to the DoT secretary says, “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.”
The company has said, “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-à-vis such operators who never sought such clearances.”
DoT is in talks with the Canada’s Research in Motion (RIM), which provides the services to local operators, to find a technology solution to the issue of lawful interception.
However, despite several meetings and warnings, no solution has been found as yet. RIM has, however, given a commitment to DoT that it would come forward with a solution.