DoT audits have previously resulted in the shutting down of operations of many enterprises. Following strict regulations, DoT hasn’t spared even the biggest of the organisations and has slapped them with litigations and hefty fines.
Based on the telecom laws defined by the Government of India, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has made mandatory specified regulations for all the telecommunications, broadband, internet and other services, in consultation with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).
Recently, a compliance executive expressed a genuine concern relating to the same topic, saying – “I have heard that there are restrictions on how conferencing can be configured in India. What are the rules and regulations regarding voice conferencing in India? I cannot seem to find any real information about it. Is my current conferencing solution TRAI-complaint?”
While defining multiple licences for different services, operators have provided telecom, internet, cable, and so forth, through the New Telecom Policy 1999, National Telecom Policy 2012, and the Indian Telegraph Act 1885, under Government of India.
With newer technology arriving, the government tries to strike a balance between revenue protection and consumer benefit for the existing service providers. TRAI regulations restrict how the solutions can be architected for the enterprises having CUG (Closed User Group) through UC (Unified Communications) setup.
Why is it necessary for the enterprises’ conferencing solutions to be toll-compliant?
TRAI has a blanket statement that states that calls made using public switched telephone network (PSTN) resources resulting in toll bypass for the service providers are not compliant. If non-vigilant, PBX user enterprises could easily violate TRAI regulations.
What this means for an enterprise is that if your conferencing solution falls under any of the following criteria, then there is a high possibility that you are bypassing the toll.
- If your conferencing solution is allowing the office desk phone user to interact with the mobile user using the conferencing bridge.
- If another party is using a PSTN for joining the conferencing and you are using the internal extension for the same bridge.
- If both CUG and PSTN parties are present on the same bridge, a long-distance toll is going to bypass.
To get a better understanding on this. Let’s take an example where an enterprise user is calling into a conference bridge located in Delhi, from the Bengaluru office, and a mobile user calls into the same conference bridge over a PSTN trunk from Delhi. Then a long-distance call is efficiently happening with the service provider using a local PSTN toll.
Timely audits – DoT and TSPs are checking
Before the enterprises are provided with a PSTN line, a complete network architecture is submitted to the Telephony Service Providers (TSPs), with strict numbering plans and logical partitioning, to stay compliant.
As TSPs and DoT are the two primary entities to conduct timely audits of the enterprise(s) with PBXs, DoT audits rarely miss out on finding violations.
What in case of non-compliance?
To talk about the consequences of being non-compliant, DoT audits have previously resulted in shutting down of operations of many enterprises. Following strict regulations, DoT hasn’t spared even the biggest of the organisations and has slapped them with litigations and hefty fines in the name of regulatory backlash. This is particularly applicable to the contact/call centres with OPS regulations.
Due to the fear of being non-compliant, many enterprises that have very fluid infrastructure due to constant acquisitions have chosen to get rid of CUG.
What is the next right step?
Until this point, it is clear that it is extremely important for enterprises related to the telecom to be compliant with the DoT and TSP regulations. And what would happen if they are non-compliant. But what’s left to know is that what can be done to make sure your organisation complies with the DoT regulations.
The smart move to make would be to configure an enterprise’s UC solution to stay compliant and avoid any unnecessary toll compliance violations in future.
While looking for a conferencing solution without bypassing toll, here are some possibilities that can be pursued.
- Enterprise-only conference bridge – Simple as it sounds, this means to establish a conference bridge for the enterprise users only. This enterprise-only conference bridge is accessible from any part of the world, but the only restriction is to ensure that it stays separated from any Indian PSTN trunk. This simply means that calls involving PSTN trunks are not allowed to land on this enterprise-only conference bridge.
- External conference bridge with PSTN routing for enterprise user – This is a conference bridge that is established outside of the enterprise network. It can be done either by the third-party service or the same enterprise. To ensure that the toll bypass does not occur at any point, this external conference bridge is routed to configure all the calls over the PSTN trunk local while the PSTN users call directly.
- Internal and external conference bridges – The key achievement here is to configure an appropriate routing within the system. Where on one side, many enterprises choose to route through the internal conference bridge for the internal parties, on the other hand, any enterprise with even one PSTN user prefers to route through the external bridge. This internal and external conference bridge is for such enterprises who choose to have both at the same time.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)