Don’t start 3G mobile service in Valley: Home ministry to DoT

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Jammu: The much awaited third generation mobile service in J&K once again came under shadow of uncertainties following a communication issued by Union Ministry of Home Affairs to the Department of Telecommunication asking it to put the service on hold in the Valley till the infrastructure to enable full tapping of lines is put in place. “The feasibility of blocking all such services for which there is no demonstrated monitoring capability to provide lawful interception may be explored by DoT. Till a solution is arrived, all telecom service providers may be directed not to provide 3G services, particularly in J&K,” a media report said while quoting the MHA Telecom Secretary P J Thomas’s communication to the DoT. This issue had come up last year, too, when DoT had asked BSNL and MTNL to have call monitoring facilities to enable security agencies to intercept the calls in 3G mobile services. BSNL had launched 3G services in Jammu last month and was planning to expand it to Srinagar city in the first phase, this month. 3G mobile services allow mobile users to access the internet and download data at a much faster pace than second generation (2G) mobile services. Though the officials in the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), the only mobile company which has started the service in the state, say that they have not received any direction from the Department of Telecommunication in this regard, sources said Srinagar city, where the service was to be launched this month, would now have to wait for another few months. “The service is unaffected in Jammu, where it was launched last month without video calling facility”, a senior BSNL official, preferring not to be named told Greater Kashmir adding, “We have not received any communication in this regard from the DoT till today”. He, however, added that the security concerns raised by the home ministry may lead to delay in launching the service in Srinagar city. “We were already facing problems in convincing the security and intelligence agencies that the service will not have any security implications and in view of the latest developments the proposed schedule for the launch of service in Srinagar may get delayed”. “There are no security concerns at least in Jammu and Kashmir, where we have launched the limited edition of 3G without giving subscribers the video calling facility”, the official said adding BSNL had demonstrated its interception facilities in Jammu”. The home minister communication, however, said the demonstration was found unable to offer intercepts of the widely used internet services on account of their proprietary encryptions/protocols, according to the communication. (GKNN)

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