After refusing Research In Motion’s limited data access offer earlier this year and approaching the Canadian government for a pact seeking access to BlackBerry services, the Indian government has now issued an ultimatum to the company to share its interception keys before August 15, 2011 or else face suspension of its services.
A highly ranked official who was privy to these talks told Economic Times that this ultimatum was issued since RIM had already missed its earlier deadline of May 15, 2011. The official added that ongoing discussions between the government authorities and RIM weren’t successful in working out a solution. He said:
Since RIM had missed its earlier May 15, 2011 deadline, the company has been told to come up with an interception solution by August 15, failing which the government may have to consider suspension of the service.
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RIM Spokesperson however declined to comment on this issue and said the company had nothing to add to its previous statement of January 13, 2011 where it had offered limited access to the Indian authorities to its messaging and email services on consumer handsets.
Earlier, an government instituted panel to examine security threats called Cyber Law Panel had recommended that digital communication services including RIM”s BlackBerry services, can’t be banned since they cannot be monitored by law enforcement agencies. It had instead recommended the government to ask such companies to either share encryption keys with security agencies or at least locate servers in India as a short term solution.
As for a long-term solution, they had recommended that the upcoming Central Monitoring System (CMS) should be made capable of intercepting any form of communication service offered within the country.
That aside, RIM added in a separate report that it now plans to strengthen its sales and service network in non-metro cities after recording an impressive growth in these areas.
The company plans to make its devices available in 6000+ outlets across the country, with majority of them being in non-metro cities, by the end of this year.
Sanjay Kaul, Senior Director, Channel sales (India), RIM said:
We have appointed Redington India as national distributors for GSM handsets. Also, Brightpoint India has been appointed as National distributors for CDMA and genuine accessories. We are developing and nurturing the retail network. In the past two years, we have seen significant demand coming from Tier-II and Tier-III cities. So we are further strengthening our network. By the end of this year, we would be adding over 2000 outlets in 25 cities.
Attributing this growth to the popularity of its messaging service BBM (BlackBerry Messaging Service), he added that even youngsters and ladies are now hooked, thereby leading to an increase in its device sales in these smaller towns.
The company also plans to increase the existing BlackBerry Experience Zones from 500 to 750, across India by end of this year. These experience zones will enable consumers to get to know all the BlackBerry products the company offers along with its benefits when compared to other smart phones available in the market.
Additionally, it is also undertaking an initiative for handset retailers called Channel Execution strategy where BlackBerry experts will impart their knowledge to retailers, store promoters and their salesmen so that they can pass that information to the consumers.