India’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has requested that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) instruct mobile network operators to stop offering third-generation services until systems that allow full monitoring of such connections are in place. According to the Business Standard, the government ministry, which drew particular attention to potential issues in Jammu & Kashmir following Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd’s (BSNL’s) recent 3G launch there, has argued that existing systems are unable to intercept video calls. ‘The feasibility of blocking all such services for which there is no demonstrated monitoring capability to provide lawful interception may be explored by [the] DoT. Until a solution is arrived [at], all telecom service providers may be directed not to provide 3G services, particularly in Jammu & Kashmir,’ the MHA noted.
The allocation of 3G spectrum to those operators that successfully bid in the government’s auction earlier this year is currently expected at the beginning of next month, with most of the winners having indicated that they will aim to launch by end-2010 or the early part of 2011. The two state-owned cellcos BSNL and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) have already launched 3G services in their respective circles of operation, and according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database the former had around one million third-generation customers at end-March 2010, while MTNL had approximately 250,000 at the same date.