Indonesia has temporarily halted issuing licenses for new types of BlackBerry smartphones, pending the opening of a local branch office with after-sales services by their Canada-based producer, an official said on Thursday.
The Communication and Information Technology Ministry has informed cellphone operators and importers of the decision, ministry spokesman Gatot S Dewabroto said.
“It is because RIM is still reluctant to open a branch office in Indonesia, particularly for aftersales services,” he added, referring to BlackBerry producer Research in Motion.
However, Gatot said that the decision only affected licenses for upcoming BlackBerry models.
Several of the nation’s telecommunications operators had planned to launch models in the third quarter, including a low-cost CDMA phone.
The government estimates that the number of “legal” BlackBerry users may exceed one million by year’s end.
Gatot said that the government would review imports of the smartphones and “if there are new types of BlackBerrys then they are illegal.”
The government discussed its demand for a branch office with RIM’s vice president, Robert E. Crow, on June 15, but the company could only promise to conduct a feasibility study.
Adita Irawati, vice president of corporate communications at PT Indosat, said that her company was working with the government in hopes of proceeding with its planned launch of a CDMA BlackBerry model.
“However, we also support the government’s effort to ask RIM to open a branch in Indonesia,” she said. “That would help cut costs and lower prices.”
RIM’s Asia Pacific media relations representative, Kathie Lee, said in an e-mail that “RIM is working with the government to address market needs in Indonesia.”