According to the recent directive, no registration is required for data-based OSPs that do not have any connection to voice traffic
TRAI has ushered some good news for ITeS, BPOs and OSPs making work from home environment more complaint. (PTI Photo)
The Telecom Authority of India (TRAI) after much deliberation has ushered some good news for IT-enabled services, Business Process Outsourcing (BPOs) and Other Service Providers (OSPs) making work from home environment more complaint. The new rules quashed the registration requirements of BPOs that engage in data-related works only. They no longer are part of OSPs.
The move by TRAI comes nearly a year and a half after suggesting easing for registration norms for submission of bank guarantee, registration and the likes. According to the recent directive, no registration is required for data-based OSPs that do not have any link to voice traffic. But the department of Telecom maintained the OPS with voice components need to register.
Why OSPs need to register their services in India?
OSPs or other data-based service providers both voice bound or not are companies that provide secondary of tertiary telebanking, telemarketing or telemedicine services to customers for various banks, hospital chains or companies that they are associated with. With the technological and information boom in India, several such OSPs forayed into the market to provide similar kinds of services via telephone. Since this sector required no high infrastructure cost and minimal investment with great returns, more and more OSPs as an affiliate to bigger firms made their way to the markets.
With the telecom spectrum being auctioned by the Department of Telecommunication in 1994, all these OSPs used leased telephone lines for the survival of their services. This prompted the government to come up with new telecom policy under which all OSPs need to register themselves letting the DoT keep an eye on the usage of their services. The registration was also necessary to discourage fraudulent OSPs from setting up which deceived customers by getting access to confidential information under the covers of providing telebanking services.
What are multiple registration guidelines fixed for OSPs?
Earlier to enable services in India, every OSP had to register with DoT and also give a declaration about the area of services they are engaged in and the number of employees associated with them. For example, if the OSP is venturing into telebanking it has to specify the state that the firm caters to and the number of employees it has.
Apart from the nature of services they provide they also have to inform if they cater to only domestic firms or to international firms as well. The OSPs also need to register themselves with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and get to their knowledge about the licensed telecom provider who has leased them the lines along with a detailed network diagram.
Above all the information about their services and how they will operate in India, they also have to provide bank guarantee as a security measure and was liable to be forfeited if the company does not comply to the DoT guidelines.
Why TRAI relaxed these guidelines?
On March 23, the government called for a nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of Covid-19 pandemic. All offices barring the essential service providers were shut down. Many OSPS owing to this had to stop their services to their clients which were again essential service providers like hospitals and banks.
In order to facilitate work from home for the employees of the OSPs, the DoT sought the details of OSP, their registration number, area of service and name. of telecom provider that leased them lines. To ease working from home environment the DoT also got the information of employees, their home address and static internet protocol address from where they log in.
Doing away with all the hassles, on April 15, the DoT came up with new guidelines under which OSPs no longer need make a declaration of employees they have work from the home agreement with or furnish security deposit. The rules were first extended to July 31 as the lockdown extended and then till December 31 this year,
On November 5, the guidelines were removed and the DoT allowed permanent work from home or anywhere for the OSP employees. These employees will be treated as remote agents or extended agents of the OSPs. The need to provide a security deposit as a bank guarantee was also removed for any India location.
How the new guidelines will help OSPs
With the new guidelines of DoT, the OSPs like the BPO’s and ITes firms will no longer have to invest on an office set up that will in turn cut on rent for premises, electricity, internet bills and other such ancillary costs easing business.
Without the requirement of registration, the existing companies no longer have to renew their licenses and foreign companies can come to India and set up service providing units at a lesser cost. With the OSP employees being treated as remote or extended agents, the OSPs do not have to provide details of employees to Dot letting them employ more executives and creating more jobs.
Last but not the least, by making the data-based OSPs exit the ambit of BPOs, they are encouraged to function like any other service firm without inconvenient and strict guidelines like the presence of an agent on a location. Such changes in OSP service environment is in tune with the West were employees can freelance for more than one firm while working from home and hence encouraging more workers to join the sector.