DoT asks Telecom operators to hold video call service

In a letter sent to these companies, the Telecom Department (DoT) said the shortcomings in interception facilities of video calling on 3G services for the agencies need to be addressed before their launch.

The three companies were to start the video call facilities by the end of this year.
According to an exhaustive note sent by the Union Home Ministry to the DoT, a demonstration was organised by Reliance, Tata Teleservices and Bharti during which the law enforcement agencies pointed out that online delivery of video call intercepts "in real time" could not be carried out by any of the telecom operators.

The contents of such calls were displayed only after five minutes of the completion of these calls as against the requirement of the agencies which want such details and interceptions on real-time basis, official sources said.

The DoT asked these operators to put on hold their services being offered under 3G until they address the concerns raised by the security agencies.

During the demonstration carried out by these telecom service providers, it came to light that long duration video calls, both incoming and outgoing, could not be intercepted, official sources said.

"Outgoing and incoming video calls after eight minutes could not be intercepted and displayed," they said.

The service providers are pushing the contents of the calls in raw format to the server of the agencies, which requires use of decoders to view and listen to them, the sources said.

The security agencies pointed out that if interception is done on a 3G handset, only noise is heard as indication of video call.

"A conference call is not distinctly labelled. On the other hand, it is displayed as a two different outgoing calls," the note said, adding the service providers should be directed to make provisions for proper tagging.

When contacted, Bharti and Reliance spokespersons said the video calls would be started by them only after complying with the security norms laid down by the government.

Tata said in a written statement that "DOCOMO demonstrated its capabilities to offer Next-Gen services like video-calls, video-SMSes and blazing high-speed data access at the time of the launch itself.

"However, in light of government's concerns over monitoring of some services, Tata Teleservices Limited has decided to keep services like video-calling in abeyance, till such time as the requisite authorities give their approval for the same," it said.

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