Simply put, other service providers (OSPs) are entities providing application services, IT-enabled services, call centre services or any kind of outsourcing services using telecom resources.
Among other aspects, the rules would allow companies, say an airlines with a voice based centre in India, to now serve global and domestic customers with common telecom resources, something that required dedicated, separate infrastructure previously.
Moreover, the restrictions on data interconnectivity between any BPO centre of same company, a group company or any unrelated company has been done away with, opening up prospects and allowing better resource management for BPOs.
The norms have also been substantially eased for remote call centre agents in any location, to connect with customers using any technology including broadband over wirelines and wireless.
All in all, the measures would lead to major cost savings and significantly improve resource utilisation for BPOs, permitting them increased operational flexibility, while positioning India as a favourable hub for IT-enabled services.
“In order to encourage our BPO industry, OSP guidelines that were liberalised in November 2020 have been simplified even further, offering greater ease of business and regulatory clarity. This will further reduce compliance burden and help our tech industry,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.
While OSPs will have to self-regulate their operations and there is no requirement to submit reports to the telecom department on a routine basis, players will have to maintain call data record, usage data record and system log for all customer calls for the stipulated period, and abide by data security norms.
The distinction between domestic and international OSPs has been removed. This means, a BPO centre with common telecom resources will now be able to serve customers located worldwide, including in India.
With the removal of the distinction between domestic and international OSP centres, the interconnectivity between all types of such centres is now permitted, according to the new guidelines. The liberalised guidelines for OSPs would benefit BPO organisations giving voice-based services, in India and abroad.
“Remote agents of OSP can now connect directly with the centralised EPABX/ EPABX of the OSP/ EPABX of the customer using any technology including broadband over wireline/ wireless,” an official statement said.
It added that there will be not restriction for data interconnectivity between any centres of the same company or the group company or other company. This would make it easier for BPOs to more easily sub-contract work to smaller players, where needed, and give a free hand to players to juggle their resources, based on orders and workload.
Electronic Private Automatic Branch Exchange (EPABX) of the players can be located anywhere in the world. Companies apart from utilising EPABX services of the telecom service providers can also locate their EPABX at third party data centres in India, the rules say.
“The guidelines issued today are revolutionary in nature and will make India a favourable destination for expansion of voice-related BPO centres,” Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in a briefing.
India’s IT-business process management industry stood at $37.6 billion (about Rs 2.8 lakh crore) in 2019-20 providing employment to lakhs of youths in the country.
The Indian BPO industry has the “extraordinary potential” to rise to up to $55.5 billion (Rs 3.9 lakh crore) by 2025, the minister said adding that the liberalised norms announced on Wednesday are “far reaching” and will enable “seamless connectivity” for BPOs “in a flawless manner”.
The new guidelines will provide India a vantage position in the global BPO market, and pitch the country as a serious player in voice-related outsourcing industry.
“We hope with these liberalised guidelines which are comparable to best in the world, India will be able to attract a lion’s share of BPO industry,” Prasad added.
The business process management industry’s revenues grew to $38.5 billion in 2020-21 from $37.6 billion in 2019-20, overcoming the backdrop of pandemic. The latest set of measures are aimed at fuelling that growth.
In November last year, the government had announced simplified guidelines for BPOs and ITeS companies to reduce the compliance burden on them and to facilitate ‘Work From Home’ and ‘Work From Anywhere’ framework.
The changed rules for OSPs at that time had sought to create a friendly regime for ‘Work from Home’ and ‘Work from Anywhere’, and had also removed frequent reporting obligations for such companies.
A study by industry body Nasscom has found that over 72 per cent of the respondents surveyed were highly satisfied with the past OSP reforms.
As many as 95 per cent of the respondent said it helped in reducing the compliance burden and cost of doing business in India, and an overwhelming majority felt it will help in making IT services more competitive globally.
“The revised #OSP guidelines issued today by @DoT_India is a welcome step which will further accelerate the growth of the USD 194 billion #IT-BPM industry and will significantly improve the #eodb (ease of doing business) in the country,” Nasscom tweeted.
The industry association also expressed confidence that with the new guidelines in place, the IT-BPM industry will be able to attract more investments.