After the telcos failed to meet Department of Telecommunication (DoT)’s deadline to implement the location accuracy Of 50 metres, the Indian Government has now revised the location accuracy percentage and distance for which the telcos have to maintain location details of its mobile customers. This announcement was made by Milind Deora, the Minister of State in the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, in response to a question in the Lok Sabha.

The revision is as follows:

– In urban areas i.e. regions with more than 1 million mobiles in a municipal limit, telcos have been asked to implement location based services with a 30% location accuracy in less than 50 metres, 60% accuracy in less than 100 metres and 80% accuracy in less than 300 metres by the end of the first year. This accuracy should be gradually improved to reach 50% accuracy in less than 50 metres, 75% accuracy in less than 100 metres and 95% accuracy in less than 300 metres, by the end of the second year. Note that the time period is calculated from the date of issue of the amendment i.e. May 31, 2011.

– In sub-urban and rural areas, telcos have been asked to implement location based services with a 50% location accuracy in less than 300 metres and 60% accuracy in less than 500 metres by the end of the first year. This accuracy should be gradually improved to reach 50% accuracy in less than 100 metres, 60% accuracy in less than 300 metres and 75% accuracy in less than 500 metres, by the end of the second year i.e. May 31, 2013 and reach 60% accuracy in less than 100 metres, 70% accuracy in less than 300 metres and 80% accuracy in less than 500 metres, by the end of the third year i.e. May 31, 2014. Note that Jammu & Kashmir, Assam and North Eastern states come under the sub-urban and rural areas category.

– In remote areas, telcos have been asked to implement location based services with a 50% location accuracy in less than 300 metres and 60% accuracy in less than 500 metres by the end of the second year i.e May 31, 2013, which should be gradually improved to reach 60% accuracy in less than 300 metres and 70% accuracy in less than 500 metres, by the end of the third year. i.e. May 31, 2014.

Telcos should provide location details to customers: Deora also said that all mobile telecom service provider licensees should provide location details of mobile customers, as a part of the call detail record (CDR) in the form of longitude and latitude along with co-ordinates of the cell sites which already exists in CDR. Initially these information shall be provided for specific phone numbers but by the end of the third year i.e. May 2014, Deora added that the location details should be a part of the CDR for all mobile calls. He noted that service providers in the country are currently at various stages of of implementing these accuracy directives, however, no service provider has completed the implementation and sent the final compliance notice yet.

Telcos should finance the implementation themselves: Deora stated that the location based system should be implemented by telecom service providers at their own cost.  This follows a letter dated January 12, 2010 from Bharti Airtel, in which it had told DoT that this implementation 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 which it had also expressed concern on consumer backlash on privacy.

Following this, COAI (Cellular Operators Association of India) had suggested that the implementation cost for these location based services should be borne by the government, since the regulation could cost the Indian telecom operators approximately $5 billion, and there was no solution at present that meets the DoT mandate 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.

Deora also said that Telecommunication Engineering Centres (TEC), the technical arm of DoT is currently looking into the issues of implementability of the mandated accuracy levels and the government will take suitable action after they receive a report from TEC.

Previous Coverage:

Telcos Fail To Meet Indian Govt’s Deadline To Implement LBS Accuracy Of 50 Mtrs: Report
– 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