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Saudi Arabia won't ban BlackBerry data services

Official claims RIM agreed to place some of its servers in the country

Research in Motion (RIM) has reached an agreement with the Saudi Arabian communications watchdog, which will ensure BlackBerry data services can continue in the country.

The Communications and Information Technology Commission, (CITC) said last week that it would suspend BlackBerry services in the country on Friday, as it violated regulations. It subsequently provided an extension to operators until end of Monday to test out the solutions they were working on with RIM. The deadline passed without a cut in service, according to reports.

The Commission said it had decided to allow BlackBerry Messenger, RIM's instant messaging service, as part of the regulatory requirements had been met. Other regulatory requirements have not been met by operators, but CITC's statement did not specifically say which ones.

RIM has also agreed to place some of its communication servers in the country, said an official from the CITC on condition of anonymity.

Etihad Etisalat, which uses the brand name Mobily, Saudi Telecom Company (STC), and Zain Saudi Arabia are the three operators in the country that offer BlackBerry services.

A RIM spokesman based in India said the company did not have a comment on the Saudi Arabia arrangement.

Philip J Crowley, assistant secretary at the US Department of State, said that there had been a report of "at least an agreement between RIM and Saudi Arabia".

The US Department of State said last week that it is in touch with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other governments to better understand their concerns and plans on the BlackBerry service. The UAE also said last week that it would suspend BlackBerry services from October 11 unless RIM located servers in the country that can be monitored.

An agreement between RIM and Saudi Arabia is likely to have ramifications in other countries that are analysing RIM's service, including India, Indonesia and Lebanon, which want to monitor BlackBerry communications, said Matthew Reed, an analyst with Informa Telecoms & Media.

Imad Hoballah, acting chairman and CEO of Lebanon's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) said last week his agency is analysing encrypted data sources to find ways that security agencies can get access to data when needed.

See also: Saudi Arabia sets deadline for BlackBerry ban


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