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Euro Telcos Face Storage Avalanche

A new European data retention directive designed to help law enforcement agencies tackle terrorist threats is set to cost Europe's telecom operators and ISPs a collective fortune, and it will likely provide rich pickings for storage vendors and integrators.

The European Union's Directive 2006/24/EC "on the retention of data generated or processed in connection with the provision of publicly available electronic communications services or of public communications networks" is already in legal force. It was hurried through the European Parliament following the terrorist attacks in Madrid (2004) and London (2005). (See EU Debates Data Retention.)

The debate on the directive is over. As a law, it's now a "must do," and a mandatory compliance date is set. The directive's requirements need to be implemented by the EU's 25 member states by September 15, 2007.

By that date, fixed and mobile telecom operators and ISPs will need to have data storage and retrieval systems in place that can deliver on the directive's exacting requirements. Based on a cost assessment by one country, the collective cost to EU service providers is set to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Those service providers, by law, will need to retain and store call data records (CDRs) of voice calls, voice mails, and text and multimedia messages placed on their networks. Those records must include the telephone numbers, identities, and addresses of the calling and called parties, the time and duration of the call, and the type of service used.

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