Gokul Blog — A conversation on VoIP, IMS, Cisco and Just about Anything

Deeper analysis of VoIP

Is the Indian Government Protecting the Phone Companies?

Posted by tggokul on December 12, 2006

There has a been a recent news item that the Indian government is forcing call centres not to use Foreign players like Vonage/Skype. This has been critisized strongly in the blogging circles. Alec Saunders calls this ‘short sighted’. Om attributing this to political lobbying says

For a country which views itself as part of Planet Technology, its government is failing to take into account the changing telecom and technology environment. These moves to ban low cost voice providers must have come at the behest of large phone companies – Bharti Telecom and Reliance Telecom – which are major long distance minute providers and of course, some of the biggest political donors.

Yes, we all love a scandal, but not this one guys. This announcement has nothing to do with the government protecting the large phone companies. There are two reasons for this government policy. One is that the government is losing money on the Service Tax/ Revenue share which the unlicensed players end up not paying.  I see no problem with the government trying to ensure that they get their share.

The other important side of this whole debate has not been talked about in the report. Security Compliance is the new buzz word in Indian Call Centre circles. (I had blogged about this earlier). There have been a couple of incidents in the space of the last three months where sensitive data has been compromised in Call Centres which has put the whole Indian call centre industry under a microscope. Most Call Centres ( medium/large) of US/UK based organisations now have to have this security compliance in place, and have to be audited for SOX/BS-7799 compliance.

NASSCOM (The National Association of Software and Services Companies) is the Indian chamber of Commerce that serves as an interface to the Indian Software industry. What it has been trying to evangalize is ,instead of having systems in place for auditing purposes, if the call centres can be FORCED to do certain things ( instead of the current methodology where it is optional to be security compliant unless the customer asks for it) then the whole industry would benefit and one rogue call centre will not tarnish the image of the entire industry. This was the reasoning behind them taking up this issue with the government to ratify the existing laws.

The single most important block in a ‘compliance’ is the reporting scheme. It has to be perfect with every call detail recorded and reported. By the existing law , when minutes are purchased from authorised players, the authorized player is mandated to provide any data pertaining to the use of internet telephony like call detail record. This CANNOT be forced if the minutes themselves are purchased from unauthorized players. The government is trying to regularize this, hence the law.

Now, I am in no position to say whether there are any other ulterior motives.  Cisco, Yahoo are very bullish ( so am I) on Indian IP Telephony and I need to see more evidence to the contrary to change my standpoint.


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