According to industry body associations COAI (Cellular Operators Association of India) and AUSPI (Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India), telecom operators have not been able to meet the 1st June 2012 deadline for complying with the new Equipment Security Agreement mandated by Indian government (Department of Telecom), that requires them to maintain location information up to the accuracy of 50 meters, reports PTI (Via The Economic Times).

Quoting General Rajan Mathews, director of GSM industry body, COAI, the report mentions that operators have made various representations stating that the accuracy levels demanded by the government were not possible, and that the technology will cost to the tune of $2-3 billion and that the industry wants that the cost should be borne by the government as it is for the purpose of national security. Mathews also said that the department should first test the technology of vendors and that there should be consensus between law enforcement agencies, DoT and the industry before its deployment.

S C Khanna, Secretary General, of AUSPI had said that telcos have not been able to find a vendor who is ready to commit the phase-wise implementation of LBS as mandated by DoT.

COAI’s Statement

Last year, the COAI had issued a statement, saying the new Equipment Security Agreement requires operators to maintain location information up to accuracy of 50 meters for customers specified by Security Agencies by 1st June 2012, and for all customers by June 2014.

It had said that the regulation could cost the Indian telecom operators approximately $5 billion,and based on the technical standards for accuracy levels as defined by the Government, the scale of implementation, the execution of the project and the complexities involved there was no solution at present that meets the DoT mandate. It had also suggested that the cost should be borne by the government.

MediaNama’s RTI on LBS Mandate & Operators’ Response

Note that , Bharti Airtel had told India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) that it could cost the company as much as Rs 4500 crore to bring location accuracy down to 100 meters. In response to a Right To Information request filed with the DoT, MediaNama had received copies of notices sent out by the department related to improving location accuracy down to 50 meters, and Bharti Airtel’s response to the Department in June 2011. It had also expressed concern on consumer backlash on privacy.

The DoT had requested all access service providers to indicate service area-wise timeframe for implementing LBS, with priority given to Jammu & Kashmir, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal and the North East service area. We had not received a copy of the guidelines which the COAI mentioned, that mandated the 50 meter rule.

Airtel in its response, had said (in January 2010) that they had the capability to measure location accuracy up to 500 meters for urban areas, and 1000 meters in rural areas, and that a location accuracy of below 100 meters would be achievable only with GPS enabled handsets, which is a challenge. It had offered the government two solutions:

– The upgradation to ECGI, which can offer accuracy up to 300 meters would take a year, since changes would have to be made for 1 lakh BTS sites, and the cost would be Rs 25-30 crores.
– An LMU – Location measurement unit module – can be installed in each BTS site, at the cost of $10,000 each, which would be around Rs 4500 crores. The company said it could examine the feasibility of this if Government support in funding the cost of implementation and upgrading the network was available.

Related Coverage:
Airtel Had Estimated Cost Of LBS Rollout At Rs 4500 Crore For 100 Mtr Accuracy
– New Telecom Equipment Policy Mandates Location Based Services Accuracy Of 50Mtrs: COAI
– Indian Government Asks Telecom Operators To Sharpen Location Awareness; LBS
– What The Home Ministry’s Communications Monitoring Tender Tells Us