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Mobile firms seek India govt meeting on BlackBerry

Date: 3/13/2008 1:56:34 AM

Mobile phone operators are seeking more talks to discuss Indian government security concerns which a newspaper said could lead to the termination of BlackBerry services in India, an industry official said on Wednesday.

The Business Standard, citing unnamed sources, reported that Indian security agencies want BlackBerrymaker Research in Motion to give them access to algorithms needed to decrypt messages, or face a termination of the service at the end of March.

"We have met them (the government) more than once and we are trying to meet them again," T.V. Ramachandran, director general of the ninemember Cellular Operators Association of India, told Reuters.

"Government wants some security concerns to be addressed and we are trying for an effective dialogue with the security agencies and the department of telecommunications," he said.

The paper said security agencies, the department of telecommunications, RIM executives and Indian operators offering BlackBerry services would meet on March 14, although this could not be confirmed.

"RIM operates in more than 130 countries around the world and respects the regulatory requirements of governments. RIM does not comment on confidential regulatory matters or speculation on such matters in any given country," a spokeswoman in Hong Kong said.

One analyst said it would not make sense for RIM to disclose its algorithms as that was their competitive advantage.

"Although the governments concerns are genuine ... there is no need to make too much out of it," said Kaustubh Dhavse, program manager, ICT practice for South Asia and Middle East at consultancy Frost & Sullivan.

"RIM has been there for many years and they have businesses in many countries. So what they need to do is they have to assure the nodal agency that any malpractice wont happen. And the operators need to have their own safeguard in place."

The Business Standard said BlackBerry had an estimated 400,000 subscribers in India, while Dhavse put it at more than half a million.

RIMs spokesman for India, Satchit Gayakwad, said BlackBerry services were offered in India by four providers, Vodafone , Bharti Airtel , Reliance Communications and BPL Mobile.

He said BlackBerry had 12 million customers worldwide in December.

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