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VOIP to be Made Illegal in India 258

Posted by samzenpus
from the the-internet-is-not-for-talking dept.
Krish writes "Providers like Skype, Yahoo, Net2phone, Dialpad, etc. will not be able to offer VOIP in India under the proposed govt. clampdown. BPOs and other call centers will face the axe if they use any of the VOIP services provided by the above companies. It is not clear if this clampdown will affect regular home users."
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VOIP to be Made Illegal in India

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  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday December 07, 2006 @12:24AM (#17141610) Homepage Journal

    Call your VOIP carrier's helpdesk and you might get hold of some guy in India.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      But now we are less likely to because at least one part of call center expenses in India are going to cost MORE now. The more I think of this silly law, the more I like it.
      • Re:Oh the irony... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by arivanov (12034) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @06:52AM (#17143812) Homepage
        That may or may not be the case.

        1. The law has been in force for a very long time. Ask anyone who has actually done a proper costing and the legal aspects of outsourcing to India and they will tell you this.

        2. The law as such dissallows you to interface into a PBX or anything else which is also connected to the local network over there. In fact as far as the letter of law is concerned this is not that much different from telco regulations in many places around the world.

        3. The law does not dissallow you to host as many VOIP phones there as you like provided that they are off your own PBX located outside India and do not interface into the local phone network by any means. So a call center whose guts are located offshore is still fully legal. On(Indian)shore is very murky and it is not something call center outsourcers care about. After all the call center chickens working 10.5 hour shifts are usually not allowed local calls anyway.

        4. As far as Yahoo, Dialpad, etc are concerned they are simply required to be registered under the Indian telecoms regs to offer service. This for all practical purposes means that they or their subsidiaries will have to go under majority Indian ownerships. So much for WTO here (actually dunno if they are a member). In fact it is about time someone beat up India in terms of trade treaties and obligations on this.

        So overall, this law does not change anything as far as call centers are concerned. The Idian government is not mad to kill their primary GDP source. All it does is to ensure that the near-monopoly of Idian companies on the Idian telecoms market is retained for times to come.
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          As far as Yahoo, Dialpad, etc are concerned they are simply required to be registered under the Indian telecoms regs to offer service. This for all practical purposes means that they or their subsidiaries will have to go under majority Indian ownerships. So much for WTO here (actually dunno if they are a member). In fact it is about time someone beat up India in terms of trade treaties and obligations on this.

          India would be idiotic not to do this and so would any other nation. Look at how well it's work

    • Oblig (Score:4, Funny)

      by Swimport (1034164) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @02:22AM (#17142406) Homepage
      If VOIP is illegal, only criminals will have VOIP.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by RatRagout (756522)
      Great solution. Ban everything that is good, instead of doing an effort to provide something better. A billion people should be able to come up with something at least as good rather quick, but they're probably busy doing their daytime job for Skype or Yahoo...
      • Re:Oh the irony... (Score:4, Informative)

        by PaneerParantha (713034) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @07:52AM (#17144064)
        People do not seem to have read the article.

        It doesn't say that VOIP will be banned in India, it says:

        1. Illegal Web calls by BPOs face axe

        2. Companies...not use the services of unlicensed foreign service providers such as Net2Phone, Vonage, Dialpad, Impetus, Novanet, Euros, Skype and Yahoo

        3. According to official sources, foreign players such as Skype, in addition to disturbing the level-playing field for bonafide licensees, were also causing great revenue loss to the government as they did not pay the 12% service tax and 6% revenue share on internet telephony.

        4. The government move, when implemented, will fulfil a long-pending demand of internet service providers (ISPs).

        5. ...call centres and BPOs can ensure that they are availing services from an authorised service provider.
        IOW, VOIP won't be banned but more regulated.

        The headline of this story is sensationalist.

    • Re:Oh the irony... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by siufish (814496) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @04:21AM (#17143068)
      Why should it be otherwise?

      Ask yourself honestly: will you make any purchase decision based on whether the call centers are in India or in the US? How many times does it come up in your head when you are picking a VOIP carrier? Shopping for a digital camera? Deciding between a Amex or a Visa card?

      Now ask yourself the next question: will you make any purchase decision based on the price? If one VOIP costs $19.99/month and has call centers in India, and another costs $39.99/month and employs only American citizen call agents, which one will you choose?

      To businesses, call centers are "cost centers", and accordingly should be as cheap as possible. If they can make the same amount of money with cheaper call centers, they will. If customers don't care, they won't care.
      • Re:Oh the irony... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Bottlemaster (449635) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @05:38AM (#17143440)
        Ask yourself honestly: will you make any purchase decision based on whether the call centers are in India or in the US? How many times does it come up in your head when you are picking a VOIP carrier? Shopping for a digital camera? Deciding between a Amex or a Visa card?
        I don't research these things when I make a purchase, but on the rare occassion that I have to call customer support for a product or service and am answered by someone who does not speak or understand English clearly enough to help me with my problem, I put that company on my blacklist and do not buy from them again. Honestly.

        To businesses, call centers are "cost centers", and accordingly should be as cheap as possible. If they can make the same amount of money with cheaper call centers, they will. If customers don't care, they won't care.
        If a company cares about customer service, they will hire (for their United States customers) support staff that can properly service someone who speaks the US variety of English. It's hard enough convincing Time Warner representatives located just a few miles from here that the problem is on their end. I'd cancel their service if I had to deal with a language barrier too. I guess this customer cares.
        • Re:Oh the irony... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by anothy (83176) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @08:25AM (#17144206) Homepage
          i agree with this, but with a caveat.
          If a company cares about customer service, they will hire (for their United States customers) support staff that can properly service someone who speaks the US variety of English.
          this is true and vital, and plenty of companies have learned it, or are learning it now. but note that there's absolutely no reason why that person can't be Indian and in India. there are plenty of language schools in India that turn out people who're entirely fluent in english, including the american dialect.
          my experience working with engineers in India is that there's basically two ways companies can go about building a dev team in India. first, you can hire good engineers who cost aroudn 1/2 to 1/3 of what they'd cost in the US, and have at least roughly comparable skill levels. second, you can hire warm bodies who're engineers on paper, and you can get them for 1/5 to 1/10 of what similarly warm bodies would cost in the US. if whoever's in charge of hiring there understands that people are not fungible assets, you've got a good chance of getting a useful and productive team in India; if not, you're more or less screwed. my experience with customer support (other than as a customer) is more limited, but i have no reason to believe it's not the same there.
          i work with a guy who says things like "an indian could never understand me", where "understand" means "relate to". he gives examples of things like understanding baseball. wtf do i care if the customer support rep on the phone knows who won the Yankees game last night, regardless of where they are? there's legitimate points about language barrier and cultural differences impacting effective communication, and then there's flimsy rationalizations for stinking racism.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Shihar (153932)
          If a company cares about customer service, they will hire (for their United States customers) support staff that can properly service someone who speaks the US variety of English. It's hard enough convincing Time Warner representatives located just a few miles from here that the problem is on their end. I'd cancel their service if I had to deal with a language barrier too. I guess this customer cares.

          While there is some danger is using an Indian call center, it isn't as bad as people make it out to be. It
      • Re:Oh the irony... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jamesh (87723) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @06:37AM (#17143720)
        To businesses, call centers are "cost centers", and accordingly should be as cheap as possible. If they can make the same amount of money with cheaper call centers, they will. If customers don't care, they won't care.

        That bit about customers not caring is so true. But as soon as you start spending money outside of your community (village/city/stage/country), it's gone.

        People go and buy imported goods (and services now it seems) because they save a few dollars, and then bitch and moan because another factory has closed down and they're out of work. It's your own f*cking fault people!!! If you're lucky enough to live in a country that protects working conditions, then ffs don't go and buy stuff from a country that doesn't. You're only ripping yourselves off.

  • by zappepcs (820751) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @12:26AM (#17141624) Journal
    of the uninformed to try to control what they have no clue about in order to protect outdated and now irrelevant business models... sigh
    • by Atlantis-Rising (857278) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @12:32AM (#17141678) Homepage
      ...that 'outdated and irrelevant business model' would be the government, seeing as they are, according to TFA, pissed off that the VOIP companies are not paying their taxes.
      • by bky1701 (979071)
        Your point being? ;)

        But seriously, this sounds like a violation of SOME trade agreement. Not everything people in your country use can be taxed all the time.
        • Really? Try to tell a government that.
        • by Secrity (742221)
          Telecommunications tax (or monopoly) on telephone calls is likely to be considered to be one item by the government. If it is a tax issue, it is not unusual for telephone calls to be taxed, and some governments consider VoIP to be evading taxes. Although in India's case they may killing a golden cash cow because this is going to raise costs to their outsourcing industry.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Maxo-Texas (864189)
        So when people play everquest and chat it should be taxable to?

        And the irony of the low cost labor provider of the world being mad because of low cost (FREE) products is priceless.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          I don't think anybody said that. This is, however, not just some random decision by the Indian government to OMG CENSOR TEH INTARWEB TUBES! as the headline pretends.

          It's a standard, relatively sane, completely understandable move. Hell, I'm 90% sure the FCC has already done this.

          Now, there are a lot of reasons why it's not a good thing. But that doesn't detract from any of the above.

          • Right now.

            I'm sitting in everquest and listening to people from all over the world as well as we are on a raid.

            Sam Malone Style, FREE!

            How do you justify taxing something that's free?

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              You've never heard of proposals to tax work done in video games? The theory is, work is being done, and value is being accumulated from it. Therefore, that value should be taxable.

              That is, after all, how taxes work.
        • You may want to brush up on the concept of sovereign power. There's nothing a functioning government cannot tax. In the USA, for example, the only thing that can't be taxed is the exercise of some inalienable right. For example, you cannot be taxed for voting. But damn near anything else is taxable.
  • by WhiteDragon (4556) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @12:29AM (#17141648) Homepage Journal
    I expected this was a phone company wanting to maintain their monopoly, but apparently it's the government wanting to capitalize on taxing VOIP services, and American (and other) providers are obviously not going to pay taxes to the government of India.
    • by carpeweb (949895)
      Lots of American multinationals pay taxes to foreign governments. In fact, the system of international taxation is mind-numbing. Although I think it might be shooting itself in the balls (by making Indian call centers more expensive), it's not surprising to see a government try to tax economic activity. To steal from Willie Sutton (an irony he certainly would have appreciated), "that's where the money is".

      Although the article was written in a foreign language (English with Indian TLAs), I gather that
  • Ask yourself, self, how could this happen?

    Some rich and powerful government leaders were sitting around saying, "How do we keep India poor?" After many weeks of deliberation (They aren't very intelligent, of course.) they decided, "That's it! We'll interfere with cheap communication."
  • by Somegeek (624100) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @12:47AM (#17141802)
    Another exciting headline that unfortunately has little to do with the truth.

    In the linked article it states that goal of the proposed legislation is that call centers are not going to be allowed to continue to use unlicensed VOIP. That is a huge difference from the Slashdot headline claiming that India is banning VOIP.

    India is quite happy to have them use domestic Indian VOIP providers thereby allowing the government to tax and regulate them. Much like we have in the US where the FCC regulates and taxes VOIP providers.

  • Satyagraha (Score:2, Insightful)

    by elronxenu (117773)
    Time for some peaceful resistance, I think.

  • The article clearly points out that VoIP is not illegal in India. What is illegal is the BPO and KPO industry using unlicensed ISP's to carry their VoIP calls. The BPO and KPO industry racks up millions of minutes a month, and the goverment naturally wants them to comply with the law, so that they can be taxed. VoIP is not illegal, is it regulated, and taxed, and if a large company tries to avoid paying that tax, then well, they will be penalized. This DOES NOT affect home users at all. We can use Skype fo
  • It wasn't clear from the article, but does this apply to a companies internal VOIP system that doesn't use ANY service provider? Ignoring call centers for the moment, what does this mean for VOIP connections that don't (and can't) touch POTS, don't cost anything, and are purely software?
  • VoIP in some countries as well as MP3 audio are just the kind of thing that upsets the apple cart. The apple cart being the status quo tax base. When governments and businesses see that there previously standard revenue stream is being bypassed, they simply have to 'change the laws' to make sure their pork barrel is still fat with money.

    The point being: Each new invention based on the Internet will cause trouble somewhere if not everywhere. When a tax revenue is removed, they will move to create a new one o
  • As someone from the US who gets sent on trips to help partners in India, this would be insane. Depending on the network, calls ranged from $7-11 USD a minute, setting a company record when we got the bill since the blackberry seemed to hop to a new network every other call. I'll use VOIP via Google talk to chat with my family - without that, I'll be damned if they get me on site again. Penny wise, pound foolish. It was bad enough to pay $20 USD a day at the hotels for net access to do VOIP....
  • The VoIP could very well be the death of the telecommunication industry in India. Consider this fact - a call to the US can be made just for Rs 5 a minute using VoIP compared to Rs 20 a minute using land line or even more using mobile phone. And over the years, the quality of voice in VoIP has significantly improved.

    The booming telecommunication industry in India is going through a flux and will not be able to bear this setback of allowing VoIP calls which will cut into their margins unless of course they
  • by sunsrin (842762) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @04:06AM (#17143004) Homepage
    This is only for BPOs who might be using internet telephony without paying taxes to the Govt. FYI - Yahoo has been given the license to offer Internet telephony in India. Read here [infoworld.com] . They will be partnering with VSNL to route their calls.
  • by dindi (78034) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @06:54AM (#17143820) Homepage
    When they make Voice Over IP illegal, you can switch to Voice over Frame Relay.

    I in fact know a call center that specifically has the technology, to avoid the proposed Voice over IP law in Costa Rica. Usually law makers are shortsighted with technology, so there is always a way around. :)

    • by slashnik (181800)
      Can you then do frame relay over IP
      • by dindi (78034)
        U can do ip over frame relay.

        Technically you can encapsulate anything and tunnel it thru ip :) so i guess, why not, but then at the end you are using voice over frame relay over ip, so it's like.. hmm :) technically the same as just VOIP :)

  • Sigh....

    You think the BPO call centers in India are answering your De*l support calls using Skype or Yahoo? Oh, please....

    Most large call centers are using IP PBX "architecture". By IP WAN and QoS, the call center in India and the call center in US become one big "virtual" call center under one virtual IP PBX. Yes, there is voice traffic flowing between US and India, but that's not Skype or Yahoo voice or MSN.

    These IP PBX brands include Avaya, Cisco, Nortel, and many others. I bet these are "licens

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