Communications Ministry proposes to ban foreign SIM-cards

Communications Ministry proposes to ban foreign SIM-cards
The switch to new SIM-cards will protect subscribers

The implementation of the initiative is estimated at 5 billion rubles ($74.7m).

The Ministry of Communications proposes to oblige operators to install domestic cryptographic protection systems on the SIM cards and network equipment that have been tested by the FSB within Yarovaya anti-terror law. Kommersant writes with reference to the draft order of the Ministry and the interviewed market participants.

The switch to new SIM cards, according to the agency, will protect subscribers and the information they transmit. Now mobile operators buy SIM-cards from two foreign companies, so there are forecasts that manufacturers can pass encryption keys to international intelligence services, the Ministry of Communications says.

Moreover, SIM-cards with the domestic encryption system have to be changed every 15 months, according to the agency. However, a one-time replacement of SIM-card is not introduced.

The implementation of the initiative is estimated at 5 billion rubles ($74.7m), VimpelCom predicts. The Communications Ministry believes that the operators will have to buy 80 pieces of equipment, the cost of each is 3.2 million rubles. At the same time, MegaFon thinks that one unit of equipment will be needed for 10.000 subscribers. According to the newspaper's estimates, the cost will reach 83.2 billion rubles (there are 260 million cellular subscribers in Russia).

Another problem is that there are no cryptographic protection systems on the domestic market yet. It may take about a year to develop them.

The draft order of the Ministry of Communications is sent to the Ministry of Justice on August 3; the Ministry returned it for revision on August 15.

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