Revised Guidelines For Other Service Providers (OSPs)
On 23 June, 2021, the Department of Telecommunications (“DoT”) released revised guidelines for OSPs (the “Revised Guidelines”) in an attempt to ensure that India becomes a more conducive destination for the expansion of voice-related business process outsourcing (“BPO”) centres. The Revised Guidelines came into force with immediate effect and supersede the guidelines issued on the 5 November, 2020 (the “Old Guidelines”). Some of the key changes introduced are as follows:
Revised Definitions: The Revised Guidelines now offer clarity on the definitions of some terms used in the Old Guidelines. Terms such as ‘Voice-based BPO services’, ‘Toll Bypass’ and ‘Call Data Records /Usage Data Records (“CDR/UDR”)’ have now been provided.
OSP Categorisation: The Revised Guidelines do away with the distinction between Domestic and International OSPs, and reiterate the removal of the need for OSP registration in India.
New Dispensations for OSPs: The Revised Guidelines attempt to clear up some ambiguity brought on by the Old Guidelines pertaining to the transmission of incoming PSTN/PLMN/ISDN traffic and the relevant networking technology. It also adds technical specifics pertaining to the transmission of aggregated PSTN calls.
EPABX: Under the Revised Guidelines, Electronic Private Automatic Branch Exchange (“EPABX”) is now permitted in foreign locations. This includes locations different from the OSP centre i.e., even at third-party data centres in India. The provisions add that OSPs are now also permitted to take EPABX services from Telecom Service Providers (“TSP”).
Work from Home Clarifications: Elaborating upon the role of remote agents as mentioned in the Old Guidelines, the provisions now permit the OSP agent to also directly connect to the centralized EPABX, EPABX of the OSP, or even EPABX of the customer.
Security Conditions: The Revised Guidelines now include more details regarding the information required by enforcement agencies for forensic purposes. The provisions call out specific aspects of CDR/UDR and system logs to be maintained such as calling number, called number, date, start time, end time, duration, etc. and also stipulate that these records must be maintained for one (1) year. In addition to this, the Revised Guidelines also highlight the need for OSPs to self-regulate their operations with internal audits to ensure that there is no toll bypass and infringement on the jurisdiction of authorised TSPs.
The Revised OSP Guidelines released by the DoT can be accessed here: https://dot.gov.in/sites/default/files/Revised%20OSP%20Guidelines.pdf