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Indian operator Reliance Communications has made a partial payment of $18.6m to Ericsson in an effort to defuse their ongoing dispute after the Swedish vendor had called for the imprisonment of its chairman Anil Ambani after the company’s failure to pay the entirety of the services charges owed.

In a statement released by RCom, it confirmed that it had deposited a payment of $18.6 with the Supreme Court registry from operational funds it had at its disposal. In addition to this, it said it was taking all required steps towards enabling a settlement.

The Indian conglomerate also stressed in the statement that it remained fully committed to making the outstanding payment to Ericsson, and said it would be able to do so with the proceeds of a spectrum asset sale to Reliance Jio.

Ericsson is owed $78.5m in unpaid service charges, but the dispute between the pair escalated when RCom failed to settle the service charge on the date it was instructed to by the Supreme Court. In response to this, Ericsson increased the pressure on the Indian firm by filing a second contempt of court case against Anil Ambani, and said he should be detained in civil prison until the outstanding amount is settled.

RCom, which has all but exited the Indian mobile market, missed the original 30 September deadline to make the payment, but was then granted a reprieve until 15 December, a deadline which it also missed.

The company argued it was unable to make the payment in time because of delays by regulator Department of Telecommunications (DoT) in approving its spectrum sale to Reliance Jio, a deal first struck in December 2017. RCom reached a deal to sell off the majority of its mobile assets to Reliance Jio after creditors, including Ericsson, took action against the company over huge debts.

Published in Telecom Vendors

Canadian multinational firm BlackBerry has officially announced it has sold its messaging tools which can be used for encrypting phone calls and text messages to the US federal government – following an endorsement from the National Security Agency (NSA). BlackBerry confirmed that it received notification from the NSA’s National Information Assurance Partnership which reviews commercial technology products to see if they meet enhanced security standards for governments use.

There fear that eavesdroppers are listening in to government communications continues to rise, and has done so over the last number of years. In 2014, one of the first high-profile cases of calls being intercepted was an encrypted mobile phone conversation between a senior US State Department officer and the US ambassador to the Ukraine - the call was intercepted and subsequently leaked online.

BlackBerry is providing the NSA with messaging tools based on technology from Secusmart which is the start-up business the Canadian company acquired in 2014. The start-up had garnered international attention after it won the contract to secure German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone in the wake of allegations by a former US intelligence contractor that her phone had been hacked by the NSA.

However, the case into the alleged phone bugging was dropped in 2015, when German prosecutors declared it had not found enough substantial evidence to continue the investigation. BlackBerry has confirmed that its encrypted voice and text messaging products are by other government agencies in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa, although Germany remains its biggest customer.

US politics is currently rife with allegations of hacking with two separate investigations underway to determine if Russia played a role in the US presidential election, or if any of Trump’s team conspired with Russian authorities in relation to the election. The FBI and CIA both said it believed Russia was responsible for the e-mail hacking of Democratic presidential candidate Hilary Clinton.

Published in Government