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BTRC asks two telcos to stop BlackBerry service

Staff Correspondent

A file photo shows a mobile phone user operating a BlackBerry handset in Dhaka. The BTRC has asked mobile phone operators Grameenphone and Airtel to stop BlackBerry mobile phone services after its Canadian maker declined to set up a decoding system in Bangladesh. — New Age photo A file photo shows a mobile phone user operating a BlackBerry handset in Dhaka. The BTRC has asked mobile phone operators Grameenphone and Airtel to stop BlackBerry mobile phone services after its Canadian maker declined to set up a decoding system in Bangladesh. — New Age photo

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has asked mobile phone operators Grameenphone and Airtel to stop BlackBerry mobile phone services after its Canadian maker declined to set up a decoding system in Bangladesh, said officials concerned.
As call details and text messages of the handset users of BlackBerry directly go to the company server in Canada and are encrypted there, the BTRC has recently asked GP and Airtel for a device for lawful interception of the call details, SMS and MMS in Bangladesh.
As per the mobile operators’ licensing terms and conditions, the government reserves the right to gain access to telecom service providers’ networks as and when it deems necessary.
But, the BTRC or any other government agencies cannot make any lawful interception to monitor calls, emails or instant messages as the messages sent from the BlackBerry devices are highly encrypted to protect privacy.
The BTRC and other government intelligence agencies deemed that the use of BlackBerry handsets without any decoding system in Bangladesh was a threat to national security.
GP and Airtel initially requested the Canadian company to set up a server in Bangladesh and the company initially showed interest.
‘But, the BlackBerry maker later showed no interest and the mobile companies sought advice from BTRC on what to do with the service,’ said a BTRC official.
The regulator advised the mobile companies to stop the service without decoding system by seven days that ended Wednesday.
Grameenphone chief corporate officer Mahmud Hossain told New Age on Wednesday that they got the BTRC directive on stopping of BlackBerry
service. ‘We have sought two more weeks so that the users can be switched to other packages,’ he said.
At present, Grameenphone has around 4,500 BlackBerry service users while Airtel has around 1,500.
Two other private operators, Banglalink and Robi, had earlier applied to the BTRC for the green signal to run BlackBerry services on their networks, but the regulator declined.
Some countries, including India, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Russia and China raised concerns about the use of the handset, with many threatening to ban the company’s proprietary email and instant messaging service called BlackBerry Messenger.
The company set up servers in many countries like India, Saudi Arabia and China.




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