Reliance Jio has complained to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), saying that Bharti Airtel has violated unified licence (UL) conditions as it has not set up the network related infrastructure for pairing the Apple Watch with iPhone inside the country. In a letter to DoT, which was seen by FE, the operator said: “We understand that Airtel has not set up the referred eSIM provisioning node within India and the node being used to provide Apple Watch Series 3 service is currently located out of India in gross violation to the licence terms.” Under UL conditions, all the equipment for providing access to services should be deployed within India.
Explaining the violation, Jio said the smartwatch and iPhone share the same mobile number, which with the eSIM facility can be used to make or receive calls independent of the call status of the other device. “At the time of pairing of the iPhone with Apple Watch, over-the-air provisioning of eSIM is carried out by a dedicated network node. Such node used for eSIM profile allocation is a critical network element and the profile information contains important network and user information like operator identifier, SIM details, remote file management for managing SIM files remotely etc,” it added.
Since Bharti has not set up the requisite network within the country, it is violating UL norms, Jio claims.
When contacted, a Bharti spokesperson said, “This is yet another frivolous complaint by a desperate operator whose sole aim appears to have a monopoly over everything that they do. Bharti is a law-abiding and responsible operator. DoT was duly notified prior to the launch of Apple watch including product features, network architecture and lawful interception and we have also requested them to carry out a demonstration of the same.”
“All information relating to customers, network nodes, etc is hosted in a fully secure manner by Bharti along with provision for lawful interception. The company will be happy to share more details with the DoT as and when required,” the spokesperson added. However, Bharti sources said the only information outside of India is the eSIM inventory, which is like any other SIM inventory data and is a practice followed by almost all global operators. There’s no CDRs, no KYC, or any private information outside the country. Lawful interception is within India. Apple watch does not change anything from the current physical SIM making it soft SIM as far as security and privacy are concerned.
Both, Jio and Bharti are selling the Apple Watch 3 series in the country through their respective sales channels.
The Reliance Industries subsidiary has also alleged that it is neither aware whether Bharti has made necessary changes in its Lawful Interception Monitoring (LIM) solution nor if it has offered this service for LIM demonstration to the DoT and security agencies. “We request your good office to take severe action against Bharti and impose the strictest of penalties under the licence. Furthermore, we request you to direct Airtel to immediately stop this service and start it only upon complying with the requirements of national security and addressing the violations of the licence terms and conditions,” Jio said in its complaint to DoT.