Wfh

Need for telecom license for ITes firms to allow employees to WFH

India has 500 million Internet users, but the OSPs / ITES agents are differentiated with claims that remote-working will lead to threat to nation’s security.

There is a need for a telecom license for BPOs, KPOs and LPOs – from Department of Telecom (DoT) for allowing their employees to work remotely/ Work from Home- WFH.

Whitewater Solutions is a Technology Consulting and Software services firm which has pioneered in the space of regulatory compliance and Security. We focus on Product safety, Wireless, Energy Efficiency & E-waste management, TEC Essential Requirements and Cyber Security.

Balbir Bora, Director at Whitewater Solutions, speaks about the recent DoT circular the relaxed the restrictions for BPOs, KPOs and medical transcript service providers up to April 30, enabling lakhs of employees to Work from Home The relaxation is also for a category that describes as Other Service Providers (OSPS). Excerpts from an interview:

DQI Bureau | DATAQUEST

Balbir Bora, Director, Whitewater Solutions

DQ: Elaborate on the need for telecom license for BPOs and KPOs and LPOs for WFH.

Balbir Bora: Globally, India has shown leadership in being the offshoring destination for IT enabled services. The three-decade dominance speaks volumes for the skills and capabilities of the agents.

The IT outsourcing sector has shown growth year on year, generating export revenues of $140 billion in FY19. It is also among the largest sector to have employed more than 4 million.

In the early 1090s, the government introduced registration of OSP/ ITES centres that serviced customers outside India. With the international calling rates being extremely high then, the OSP/ ITES couldoperate using their own international leased lines. But,with the drastic dropin call rates for international and national long distance the licensing terms need to see a change to accommodate the OSP business requirements

DQ: What are the challenges faced in using the government relaxation?

Balbir Bora: The industry was not prepared for a situation like this because of which they never built a redundancy plan around remote working. Currently, DoT has issued a relaxation for allowing OSP agents to work from home but with the condition that the agents need to use VPN, a redundant technology. The relaxation also calls for a fine of INR 5,00,000 per agent in case of violation. This move is draconian for the OSP/ ITES industry.

It has been three decades and there have been no change in regulations pertaining to OSPs. The government is more concerned about the security aspect than the toll bypass. OSPs, in the larger frame of the Internet industry, are only 4 million agents that use the Internet communication for data and voice. India has 500 million Internet users, but the OSPs / ITES agents are differentiated with claims that remote-working will lead to threat to nation’s security.

The TRAI gave recommendations based on “Revised Terms and conditions for OSP registration to DOT in October 2019. Nothing has been done on that, but DOTissued a temporary relaxation till the month of July 31because of lockdown created by COVID-19.

DQ: How can the process be made cost-effective for corporates to allow employees to work remotely?

Balbir Bora: Cloud technologies have made it possible to work remotely with the zero-trust architecture and omnichannel supporting voice and data in a secure platform. With the advent of secure technologies like VDIs and others end point session based secure technologies gives the same security and control to track the agent tasks and do the forensics.

The cloud technologies are not capex intensive andscalable allowing flexibility to work from anywhere.

DQ: Besides VPN, what are the new technologies being adopted by BPOs, IT and ITeS firms?

Balbir Bora: VPN adds on the IT overheads traded off with the security feature as mandated by government.

The cloud and other zero trust technologies are available with better flexibility, scalability and are cost effective for secure voice as well as data communication remotely.

DQ: How can you ensure that customer data is still not misused?

Balbir Bora: This is controlled by the agreement between the customer and the OSPs, where the OSPs need to agree to follow the customer’s country data protection rules. The regulator has no role to play for global customers. India too has its stringent India data protection rules which needs to be agreed by OSP’s while servicing a domestic customer.

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