Faceoff Between India and RIM Coming to a Head

Carl Weinschenk

The troubles that Research in Motion has had dealing with some Asian nations during the past few months should get the attention of all smartphone markers. The problem is that telecommunications doesn't pay attention to borders. Unfortunately, for RIM and others, the governments that still divide the globe according to those borders certainly do.

The company has run into trouble in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia. Those are significant nations, of course. But perhaps the biggest threat is running afoul of India, which is far bigger and has deeper commercial ties to the west. Last week, The Register reported that RIM hopes to entice both the Indian government and important companies, such as Skype and Google, to form an industry forum to work out rules of the road for legitimate treatment of the companies' traffic.

The problems explained in the story are tricky. There also is a backlog of mistrust, as described by TechDirt Wireless. In the end, however, it seems there is room for negotiations. On the surface, it also seems that there will be motivation on both sides. RIM and any other telecom entities want to keep doing business in India, of course. India should be just as eager to keep RIM happy as its economy continues to grow.


In negotiations, the most movement generally occurs as deadlines approach. All News Headlines reported on Saturday that there seems to be a willingness on the part of the Indian government to go beyond the Tuesday deadline. Indian officials are expected to meet on Monday.

The Gulf News Daily
said that folks in the region were considering their alternatives. It is difficult to see, at a high level, precisely where the line will be, though there is too much at stake for one not to be found: Companies have a legitimate right to secure information and nations have a right to protect their security. Alternative smartphone carriers and service providers will run into the same challenges that BlackBerry is now, which is why the company apparently thinks that it can get its competitors to serve on the board mentioned in The Register piece.

<strong>This clearly is a growing problem</strong>. The march of technology-from legacy landlines to VoIP to high levels of mobility-continually increase the difficulty of reconciling what technology can do with the desires, legitimate or not, of governments to control it.

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