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Vodafone sees risks, opportunities from UK mobile voice recording rules

Vodafone sees risks, opportunities from UK mobile voice recording rules

Vodafone on Monday said new U.K. Financial Services Authority (FSA) rules requiring enterprises to record mobile voice calls could also pave the way for a raft of new value-added services. The watchdog is expected to announce in mid-November that all FSA-regulated companies must record and store all mobile phone conversations, inbound and outbound SMS messages, and voicemails to improve governance and help it detect and deter market abuse. Under current rules, businesses have to archive all fixed voice calls, voicemails, emails and instant messages. “When the fixed line rules were initially proposed [in 2008] there was resistance from the finance industry, and I would expect the same thing to happen on the mobile side,” said Matthew Chalk, who manages Vodafone Global Enterprise’s finance industry clients.

However, he explained to Total Telecom that once the dust settles a number of business drivers for mobile recording are likely to emerge.

“I already know of one insurance company using mobile voice recording for the purposes of improving the training of their field agents,” Chalk continued. “I expect we will see a proliferation of different companies and sectors using mobile recording going forward for genuinely positive business reasons.”

In addition, archiving mobile voice conversations and text messages could form an important part of an enterprise’s business continuity plan, said Chalk, particularly for players in the finance sector.

“Last year during the swine flu panic a lot of big companies were preparing for their traders to trade away from the trading floor, but they realised there’s no way they could do this without being able to record their mobile phone conversations,” said Chalk.

Vodafone already offers a mobile recording to solution to its corporate customers.

Called Vodafone Mobile Recording, it consists of a software client on the handset that automatically routes all calls, text messages and voicemails to a recording platform that sits in the enterprise’s server room, where it is archived alongside fixed calls, emails and all the other data the company stores up.

“It’s a completely device-based solution, not network-based,” said Chalk, who explained that it means data can still be recorded if the user is roaming on a different operator’s network.

“Instead of having to do loads of engineering on our network we can just push it out to devices,” he said.

He admitted this could have implications for enterprises who allow their employees to use their personal handsets for work purposes.

“There are maybe a few investment banks who have employee-liable devices, but these are in the minority – most have corporate-liable devices,” said Chalk.

“I would expect that privacy regulations would effectively prevent [enterprises] from infringing on their employees by recording their conversations, it would also make it more complicated for us because it would mean dealing with multiple handset platforms,” he said. “They would probably have to switch from employee liable [handsets] to corporate liable.”

Vodafone Mobile Recording is currently compatible with BlackBerry handsets and Symbian S60 devices. Chalk said the operator plans over the next year to extend support to iPhones, Android-powered smartphones, and Windows phones.

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