After failing to meet a deadline to install systems that identify location details from which mobile phone calls are being made, GSM operators have asked the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to withdraw a clause related to location based services (LBS) in the amended licence norms.
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), which lobbies for the GSM service providers, has recently communicated to the DoT secretary R Chandrashekhar asking removal of the clause which says that the licensee should provide location details of mobile customers in the license service area as per a scheduled time frame. This was proposed to be part of the call data records (CDR) in the form of longitude and latitude, besides the co-ordinate of the cell sites.
The DoT had, on May 31, 2011, amended all licence agreements of mobile service providers, asking them to implement Location Based Services (LLBS) over a three-year period.
The deadline for the first phase of this plan was May 31, 2012, by when mobile operators needed to have the technology to trace the location of a mobile phone call to a 50-300 metre radius. The accuracy of this tracking also needed to be between 50 and 95%, to be achieved over a two-year period. In its letter to the DoT, COAI has also said that the government should fund the project for implementing LBS as the “prohibitively expensive” project is “purely a security requirement”. COAI had reportedly pegged that the operators would have to spend about Rs 20,000 crore to implement the hardware and software solutions for location based services. The technical solutions for better accuracies in the location based service are neither technically feasible nor cost efficient, according to the COAI communication. The accuracies required would not be possible to meet unless a separate active infrastructure is in place just to determine accuracy which is outside the domain of telecom infrastructure, it stated. According to COAI, the operators have already explored various options to meet the DoT requirements on location based service. But available solutions have many flaws that would result in non-compliance of the requirement and could invite onerous penalties, uit added. In March last year, the COAI had reportedly written to the DoT saying that the stringent timeframe and accuracy conditions were announced without consultation.