Indian border force eyes sat-phone upgrade

June 8, 2012 at 6:30 AM
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NEW DELHI, June 8 (UPI) -- India's Ministry of Home Affairs has issued a request for information to upgrade its satellite phone system for use by the Border Security Force.

The MHA is looking to buy 201 phones for its telecom call interception systems, the RFI states.

Responses for the phones, to be used in remote areas where no cellphone signal is available, are expected this month with financial bids by the end of Sept. 18, the RFI says.

The border forces have been using two-way satellite ground station V-SAT -- very small aperture -- networking under the police telecommunications POLNET scheme. This provides voice, fax and data communication, a report by said.

Some of the major manufacturers of satellite phones include British firms Inmarsat and L-3 TRL Technology as well as the United States manufacturer Iridium, the EADS Group Vizida Solutions and Thuraya in the United Arab Emirates, said.

The Border Security Force was set up in 1965 and is one of the Central Armed Police Forces under the control of the MHA. It operates mostly along the frontiers with Pakistan and Bangladesh to counter cross border crime and insurgencies.

The force, with 180,000-240,000 recruits, recently has been involved in counter-terrorism operations.

India's border with Pakistan in the Himalayas in Jammu and Kashmir state is patrolled by the Border Force and is one of India's most sensitive frontiers. Its remoteness also means it requires a secure and reliable communication system.

In 2011 the federal government said it was to start building several hundred more outposts along the border with Pakistan.

In March, the government sent out a tender request for construction work on 509 border posts along its borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh in the east of the country.

Also in the east, the state of Bihar said in April it will install satellite phones at 85 places in areas under threat by Maoist rebels and in flood-affected districts for better communications in times of emergency, a report by the Indo-Asian News Service said.

Ashok Kumar, an official of the state-owned telecommunications company Bharat Sanchar Nigam, said "it's a matter of time before installation of satellite phones begins."

But the private use of sat-phones is illegal in India because of government fears of their use by insurgent groups and terrorist organizations. While jamming sat-phone signals is difficult, it is possible to locate the receivers of signals.

In September the Home Secretary R.K. Singh urged all police forces to crack down on illegal handsets, a report by the Mumbai newspaper Daily News and Analysis said.

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