Internet will be driven by OTT- Insights from Balbir Bora.


Ramdas Shenoyy speaks to Balbir Bora from Whitewater Solutions on how telecom industry is shaping up for the future.

Telecom Industry from being a blue-eyed baby to now being seen with scepticism and challenges– how do you see the industry?

Indian telecom industry is all about the internet today and voice has become the commodity. Only after the internet prices dropped drastically, the internet penetration has touched it’s all time high. The OTT applications have been driving internet and have taken more importance than the telecom operator.

Going forward, the internet (Telecom) will be driven by the OTT apps and internet prices with further go down. The telecom operator will have to be much more customer driven and offer more value added services than plain internet.

With major shakeout and rearrangement of telecom brands, how do you see the role of TRAI in managing their agenda?

TRAI has an important role to plan in defining the cloud (data and voice) guidelines to keep this fast growth relevant. In absence of the regulatory guidelines, the fate of many of the key internet applications is in dark. This is also keeping everyone far from adopting many innovative and productive technologies.

Data security is another major factor to consider with advent of cloud and omnichannel technologies. With everything running on public internet, the regulator will have to think out necessary steps for safeguarding the privacy of consumer/ domestic data.

How transparent, easy and single window, the telecom industry has become for any new entrant in the last decade?

It can be seen that the government is liberalising the regulations and bringing a lot of transparency in the system in past few years. Last year, DoT simplified the OSP (Other Service Provider) regulations to bring about a boom in business opportunities for the Indian IT and ITeS industry.

New initiatives are being taken to strengthen the telecom landscape of India, in form of new PM-WANI and VNO license regime. Launched in January 2021, there are already 30 licenses issued to PDOAs under the PM-WANI framework. No license fees levied on this category of service providers to encourage players in the market invest in this opportunity and increase internet penetration to rural mass of the country. For VNO, 83 licenses have been issued through the SARAL SANCHAR portal since November 2019. It can be seen that global and local players in the market have started leveraging the opportunities offered by the regulator.

There is a visible intent to encourage ease of doing business and there is more to be done.

From being a compliance champion at CISCO to now at Whitewater, how have things changed?

At Whitewater we work with all kinds of telecom service providers, solution vendors and customers who need help in Indian telecom regulatory nuances. This has also been a good journey where we had the opportunity to work with the regulator at different levels and areas.

We have been able to make a larger impact to the industry with respect to better understanding of the telecom regulations.

What are the offerings and value that White Water brings on table?

Whitewater offers a complete package of telecom compliance services, which includes regulatory advisory to the new entrants in the OTT and cloud space. We also provide a comprehensive understanding of the new OSP regime to our customers. Our portfolio includes consultation on any requirement for Telemarketer and DLT compliance. We are also well versed with the compliance management for various DoT licenses like VNO, ISP, etc.

Your take for Telecom industry and advice to aspirants in the telecom domain.

Telecom is all about internet and internet is the biggest enabler of anything from education to driverless cars. Cloud and data centres will be the new industry that will be required by every business and every individual. IoT and smart cities will be the new way of life. Various consultation papers are already being published by TRAI for formulating a framework around the expected future of India’s telecom space, from OTT solutions, hosted platforms, omnichannel technologies to cloud services.

Data Security is going to be a very important area of growth apart from ultrafast internet speeds by the means of 5G and FSOC.

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