VMC Technologies CEO Sundeep Misra says latest TRAI regulations will hurt Cloud telephony business in India, the second largest telecom market in the world.
Indian businesses are developing technologies that are making SMEs more productive, help them compete better with larger players and improve overall return on their investments.
Cloud telephony is one such technology. Cloud telephony solutions allow SME businesses to automate their incoming call/voice processes to give better control over their telephony based transactions.
Indian cloud telephony products like MCube developed ground up by VMC Technologies after investing huge sums of time and money on innovation, technology and business model to develop a product from India, for India, by India. These cloud telephony products are offering value to customers and helping them increase their profitability. Having said all this these companies are small in size than large companies that government of India cares about and these businesses like any small businesses do not have any support from government of India.
In fact, some regulations from Government of India may result in downfall for such companies, further erode confidence of innovators and investors from India. There is one such regulation from TRAI regulation that is hurting cloud telephony solution providers.
According to the new TRAI regulation:
“Any number used as call back number in a SMS campaign to a NDNC number will result in blocking to all telecom services of the owner of call back number. Operators will have to block all telecom services for the business whose number is used in the campaign.”
I think the regulation has been brought in haste without thinking through the consequences. Result will be that those who want to continue to send SMS to NDNC numbers will continue to do so, however this regulation will impact honest businesses and people in a negative way.
Let us first understand what does above regulation mean and the impact of this regulation on cloud telephony providers in India, how does it impact other businesses, if used with bad intensions how can it affect others, said VMC Technologies CEO Sundeep Misra.
Based on this regulation if a message is sent from a number YYYYYYYYYY to a number on do not call registry :
“Buy property at Gurgaon, call XXXXXXXXXX”
Then the owner of the number YYYYYYYYYY will be penalized. This is fair.
However based on this new regulation the owner of the number XXXXXXXXXX will be penalized by blocking all telecom services of the business or individual. This is where the problem is.
Most times lead generation business is conducted by third party, however the number used as call back may not be that of the party sending message. This means someone sent a campaign and 100 numbers belonging to my business will be blocked, bringing my business to a halt. The result may be that I am not able to conduct any business and this may result in shutting down my business all together, employees loosing job, indirect loss to people involved, loss of revenue to operator, loss of service tax and TDS to government of India and other economic implications.
This regulation impacts cloud telephony solutions in a manner TRAI could not even imagine. Cloud telephony services are value added services over traditional telephony in India. Cloud telephony service providers manage incoming calls for businesses at low cost, however need to get telephony services and infrastructure in their name from the operators. The numbers are leased by businesses to purposes like lead management, sales management, support management, office telephony, help lines and many more. The service helps business of any size function like a large corporation.
Cloud telephony service providers have contracts in place that tell businesses to follow all TRAI guidelines all the time. However the problem is if some business uses the cloud telephony number to be sent as a call back number for a SMS campaign the cloud telephony solution provider will not know or have control just like the operator would not. If this results in a complaint the regulator will ask operator to block all telephony services for the operator. This will result in huge economic loss to the cloud telephony business, operator, employees and every one indirectly involved.
Government of India needs to think through the regulation and take cloud telephony operators and regard them like telephony operator to block specific numbers, get information about the business that signed up for this solution to block services to the business.
Having said this I think this regulation is still flawed and can be used for malicious purposes.
Let’s say I am a political leader of political party X and I get know of some telephone numbers owned by political party Y. My campaign is not doing well and I want to cause major disruption to the business conducted by Y, all I need to do is run a commercial campaign on NDNC numbers for numbers from Y. People will complain to TRAI, TRAI will instruct operator to block all the telecom services for Y. Result – a total shut-down for Y.
My request to TRAI will be to rethink the regulation, make it fool proof, consider economic and social implications of the regulation, consider cloud telephony service providers for the benefit of SMEs, for the first time SMEs are starting to function like larger corporations.
At the end I hope someone from TRAI is reading this and will help us get a better regulation that not only helps NDNC registered users but also innocent businesses. This will help businesses continue to innovate and investors continue to invest and have confidence on Indian businesses.