Telecom Firms in Russia Could Be Forced to Use Domestic SIM Cards: Report

    Russia’s Communications Ministry is proposing that the country’s mobile operators switch to using exclusively Russian-made SIM cards, citing security concerns from foreign-made SIM cards, Kommersant business daily reported on Friday.

    In a draft government order, the ministry says mobile phone operators should be required to switch to new SIM cards and identify their users using an encryption system approved by the domestic security service FSB, the report says.

    A new anti-terror legislation known as the Yarovaya Law outlines the new requirements, whose implementation would cost no less than 5 billion roubles ($74.73 million), the newspaper wrote citing experts.

    Companies will have to purchase equipment costing $50,000 per unit, according to experts from the Institute of Precision Mechanics and Computer Science SA Lebedev. The ministry has said that only 80 units of such equipment will be required for the whole market, but according to MegaFon, one unit will be needed for every 10 thousand subscribers. 

    The draft government order has received preliminary approval from the justice and economy ministries, which said, however, that the proposals needed to be honed further.

    “In fact, the regulation proposed in the sim card part freezes the technological development of the industry, prescribing the mandatory use of SIM cards, while the world trend in recent years is the abandonment of this format of equipment,” Russia’s Economy Ministry said in a document reviewing the proposed changes.