Wednesday, May 28, 2008

WISPA Ratifies New CALEA Standard

The Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA) has ratified a new CALEA intercept standard for wireless ISPs. The new standard makes it possible for ISPs to comply with the lawful intercept requirements of CALEA without requiring a trusted third party (TTP) to deliver intercepts to law enforcement.

The new WISPA standard takes advantage of existing Open Source software such as tcpdump and OpenCALEA to intercept network traffic moving to and from a target. Capture files are stored on a server in PCAP format so law enforcement can pull the intercept files on demand. This store-and-forward approach is preferred by law enforcement because it does not allow packet loss, and it does not require law enforcement to have the facilities required to receive streaming intercepts.

The all-volunteer WISPA CALEA committee worked for nearly 18 months to deliver the new standard. The committee produced two versions of the standard: Version 1 provides the industry’s first safe harbor for ISPs with wireless access points (APs) that cannot disable NAT, and Version 2 supersedes Version 1 in 12 months and eliminates the “NAT exemption.”

The WCS also creates a new XML framework for reporting out-of-band (OOB) signaling. CALEA requires OOB events to be reported, so a new standard for reporting these events was required. OOB events cannot currently be delivered using off-the-shelf software tools, however open tools that support the WISPA XML framework are expected from a number of different vendors and Open Source projects soon.

WISPA’s new IP Network Access (IPNA) intercept standard can be freely downloaded from the WISPA Web site at In addition, WISPA has developed an implementation guide for service providers who need help implementing the new intercept standard. The guide can be downloaded on-line for $100 USD, and it will be available June 1st.


WISPA is an association of wireless Internet service providers and equipment vendors that work to promote the development, advancement and unification of the wireless Internet service provider industry.

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