Based on the title, you are probably wondering, what relevance net neutrality in India has to the VoIP market in North America. As the geographic location is so far displaced from this continent, the premise of the topic seems obscure. However, there is much more to the subject beneath the surface.
Typically, we try to focus on relevant happenings in North America. Yet, sometimes certain regulations in other areas affect this market as well. Let’s start by taking a look at the current state of affairs in India.
Telecom in India
We have touched on the subject in the past, giving a bit of background to modern developments of the Indian telecommunications industry, beginning in the 1990s. As a whole, the country is industrializing in an initiative to bring modern conveniences and a higher quality of living. As a result of holistic infrastructure development, benefits trickled to telecommunications yielding admirable results in a fairly short time. For example, between 2004 and 2010, the number of national telephone subscribers increased 10-fold from 76 million to 764.77 million.
With such a demand for communication, it is only logical to adopt VoIP-friendly policies into regulation. Because wide scale development occurred under guidance of the TRAI (Telecom Regulatory of India) some butting of heads is taking place with India’s DoT (Department of Telecommunications.)
Brief look into a current debates
One of the most common methods of VoIP utilization occurs with a mobile device. Both regular consumers and business consumers use software, whether a well-known public mobile or private business application, to communicate. Currently, the TRAI is debating with the DoT to establish the most effective way to allocate wireless spectrum for the RANs (Radio Access Networks) supplying the signal, as a considerable amount of bandwidth is used for real-time communication.
This is but one of a few discussions in place to develop the best possible solution for RoW (Right of Way) procedures that benefit consumers and protect service providers. With respect to the development of the best possible infrastructure for telecom infrastructure, the Attorney General, Mukul Rohatagi, has requested Telecom regulators attempt to level the playing field. One of the main argument leverages the fact various states are fragmented both in terms of cost of service and price related to scaling.
Of course, the debate is much wider in scope, including proposals for handling other kinds of traffic as well. Fortunately, the ideas in discussion mostly parallel that of the current model adopted by the FCC here in North America. For more reading, the India Express has a Q&A structured article that mostly covers OTT (Over the Top) services for messaging and this article as well for a lengthier analysis of the situation at hand.
Ties to North America
So how does this all tie to the North American market? For starters, it is important to realize call centers compose a respectable segment of India’s job market (this is quite a read yet, still a great anecdote analogous to the industry.) With that said, call centers need proper infrastructure and regulation in place to run the business a functional level to serve clientele without an absurd overhead for service.
Ignoring the controversy of outsourcing American jobs overseas, the practice is certainly in effect meaning the policies set forth by regulating agencies – considering both the performance and financial aspects – have an impact on American consumers. Should the conversation change to favor state rights, which frankly, conflict the vision of the DoT, it could be detrimental to the development of both the infrastructure of the country, impacting business on multiple levels, including some businesses in North America.
In recent news, an India based call center, known as Firstsource Solutions, with sites all over the world, is expanding to include a location in Colorado Springs. The business models such of this company is such that a heavy reliance is placed on VoIP to carry out a major portion of business tasks. It is imperative for this company and similar businesses to have a beneficial regulation model constructed, favoring fair pricing and reliable performance from service providers.
Like the example above, not all Indian call centers have sites located in India. Others may solely reside within the boundaries of the country. Either way, it is common for such places to create site-to-site connections such that all locations have access to resources such as an internal PBX or that the company WAN can safely connect to a service provider. Poorly executed restructure, among other things, could result in a total flop and in turn, raise prices and lower service quality, especially for business sites in states that currently have loosely defined regulation.
In other news
Recently, India has experience threats to telecommunications, aside from the potential of poor policy implementation. Terrorists recently targeted a handful of sites in an attempt to dissuade users from utilizing said services, citing reasons conflicting with the cause of their organization.
A group of radical Islam militants known as the Lashkar-e-Islam (LeI) formed sometime in 2004 during an inter-terrorist conflict of different Tehrik-i-Taliban (or Taliban Movement of Pakistan) subsets for control of tribal region known as the Khyber Agency in Pakistan. The group is very close to Jammu and Kashmir as the state’s west side borders Pakistan. Several groups have vested interest in this area which has caused lingering collateral damage to nearby regions for the past decade.
Unfortunately, India is used as a hub for communication of all walks, including terrorists, as the country is considerably more developed economically than surrounding areas. Not only does this affect human lives but it harms infrastructure, taking a toll on customers internationally. Though this is not an issue the TRAI or DoT can directly handle, creating stability in regulation will help considerably should a future attack cause a wide-spread outage.
Though India is quite literally on the other side of the world with respect to North America, regulations affecting telecommunications and Internet in either country will impact how the other operates. Without sensible intervention, some operators could potentially harm businesses and individuals that utilize their services.
Both businesses in America that utilize call centers in India and Indian businesses located in other nations greatly benefit from the features and cost of VoIP services. Net neutrality must be adopted in such a way that it favors the consumer without overly straining provider networks. If all goes well, the masses using communication services will not need to fear elevated rates or poor service.