April 24, 2017 / 1:29 PM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-Norwegian regulator wants domestic control of mobile networks

4 Min Read

* Sweden's Telia says parts of its system may need to move

* Second operator Telenor says it already complies (Adds quotes, Telia comment, background)

By Terje Solsvik

OSLO, April 24 (Reuters) - Norway should require owners of mobile telephone networks to be able to operate in an emergency without the help of foreign-based staff or systems, the country's telecoms regulator said on Monday.

If it takes effect, the proposed regulation would be likely to have the greatest impact on Swedish telecoms firm Telia , which operates one of Norway's two nationwide 4G networks and relies partly on systems in Sweden.

Telia said in a statement to Reuters it has already conducted a survey of its systems and drawn up a list of which parts must be moved to Norway.

"For the most part, Telia Norway's infrastructure is operated in Norway, but we have some elements in Sweden. We're outlining the consequences and how to handle those," it added, without specifying the cost of the changes.

Norway's telecoms operator, the Norwegian Communications Authority (NKOM), wrote to the Ministry of Transport and Communications proposing the new regulation, saying independent mobile phone networks were key to helping authorities protect national security.

"National autonomy means that providers of electronic communications networks and services ... should be able to operate and maintain services with staff and technical solutions that are based on Norwegian territory," it said.

"If the necessary resources to ensure key communication services can't be brought under national legislation and control in case of an emergency or war, it could have very serious consequences for the ability to govern," it wrote.

Norway's second 4G network is operated by state-controlled Telenor while Ice.Net is developing a third network.

Telenor said on Twitter it was already meeting all demands and Ice Chief Executive Eivind Helgaker told Reuters the company was building its network in accordance with the expected regulation.

Ice.Net is ultimately controlled by Access Industries, founded by Len Blavatnik, a Ukraine-born U.S. citizen.

Details of the regulations have not been finalised, and would be subject to hearings on how best to ensure an acceptable outcome and limit costs, the head of NKOM's network unit, Einar Lunde, told Reuters.

"Although there will be costs involved, what we don't want to do is to impede the desire to invest, as modern technology in itself represents a safety measure," he said.

Requirements could take two years to implement and would be imposed on existing fourth-generation (4G) mobile phone systems and the data networks they rely on, as well as for subsequent technologies such as 5G.

Concerns were raised in Norway earlier this year when a separate state-owned communications network for police, fire and ambulance services gave unauthorised access to Indian systems operators via a Norwegian subcontractor.

There were no reports that the Indian operators did anything wrong, but allowing them access was a breach of protocol.

Increased Russian military activity in the Arctic region has also raised concern in NATO member Norway. (Reporting by Terje Solsvik, editing by Gwladys Fouche and Adrian Croft)

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