The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has asked whether applications should be regulated as “other service providers” (OSPs) in a consultation paper issued on March 29th. OSPs are, under the Department of Telecommunications’ definition, companies that provide application services that use the telecom infrastructure and resources provided by telecom operators to provide services like “tele-banking, tele-medicine, tele-education, tele-trading, ecommerce, call centre” etc. OSP’s aren’t licensed, but have to register, and the registration (for Rs 1000) is valid for 20 years, and is extended for another 10 years upon request in the 19th year.

The TRAI consultation paper flags the issue that the broad and vague definition of OSPs is problematic: in the consultation paper it says that this definition is perhaps too broad and subjective, “prone to different interpretations in the current scenario.” The paper also says that there’s no diffferentiation between whether something meant for captive use or for a customer. “This makes the scope of OSP very wide covering almost all the IT based services falling under the definitions of OSP.” In that sense, it also asks whether OSPs could include online services which are purely based on data/Internet as well, and not just based on taking phone calling resources from telecom operators.

This forms the first key part of the consultation on OSPs from the TRAI:

Q1. Please provide your views on the definition of the Application Service in context of OSP. Whether, the Application Services which are purely based on data/ internet should be covered under Application Service for the purpose of defining OSP.
Q2. Whether registration of OSP should be continued or any other regulatory framework should be adopted for OSPs so that the purpose of registration specified by government is met. Please furnish your views with justification.
Q3. What should be the period of validity of OSP registration? Further, what should be validity period for the renewal of OSP registration?

The other key issue, from an Internet perspective, is that of interconnection between PSTN (or regular phone connectivity) and Internet connectivity, and the usage of VPNs and Closed User Groups for OSPs.

Domestic OSPs are required to maintain a separation between their PSTN (regular phone connectivity) and (Internet) leased lines, ensuring that calls do not get transferred between them. , a separation is required to be maintained between PSTN lines and leased circuits to ensure that there is no call flow between them. It seems that the DoT finds this task of monitoring the partitioning of leased lines from PSTN challenging.

Q22. Please provide your comments on monitoring of compliance in case interconnection of data and voice path is allowed for domestic operations.

An OSP is permitted to have internet connectivity from the authorized Internet Service Provider. However, an ISP is not authorized to provide VPN/ Closed User Group to its subscribers in India. Therefore, the OSP is required to get the Internet connection for each OSP center separately, as per requirement.

It adds: “For outgoing connectivity, domestic OSP is permitted to terminate PSTN/PLMN connection with outgoing facility on the same EPABX provided that such PSTN/PLMN lines shall be used for making calls through normal NLD network only and in no way directly or indirectly cause bypass of licensed National Long Distance Operator (NLDO) jurisdiction. There shall be a logical  partitioning to ensure the separation of these facilities. They may have other connectivity e.g. Lease Circuit and Virtual Private Network (VPN) at the same centre, however, there shall not be any call flow between these PSTN lines and Leased lines. Interconnectivity of two or more Domestic OSP Centres of the same Company / LLP or group of companies is permitted. Domestic OSP is permitted to use Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) connections only for the purpose of back up of domestic leased circuits.

Q9. Do you agree with the provisions of internet connectivity to OSP mentioned in the OSP guidelines? If not, please suggest suitable changes with justification.

Q11. Do you agree with the provisions of logical separation of PSTN and PLMN network resources with that of leased line/ VPN resources for domestic OSP mentioned in the OSP guidelines? If not, please suggest suitable changes with justification.

Other questions raised in the consultation:

Q4. Do you agree that the documents listed above are adequate to meet the information requirements for OSP registration? If not, please state the documents which should be added or removed along with justification for the same.
Q5: Do you agree with the fee of Rs. 1000/- for registration of each OSP center. If not, please suggest suitable fee with justification.
Q6: Do you agree with the existing procedure of OSP registration for single/ multiple OSP centres? If not, please suggest suitable changes with justification.
Q7: Do you agree with the existing provisions of determination of dormant OSPs and cancellation of their registration? If not, please suggest suitable changes with justification.
Q8. Do you agree with the terms and conditions related to network diagram and network resources in the OSP guidelines? If not, please suggest suitable changes with justification.
Q10. Do you agree with the provisions related to Hot Sites for disaster management mentioned in the OSP guidelines? If not, please suggest suitable changes with justification.
Q12. Do you agree with the provisions of PSTN connectivity/ interconnection of International OSP mentioned in the OSP guidelines? If not, please suggest suitable changes with justification.
Q13. Please provide your views as to how the compliance of terms and conditions may be ensured including security compliance in case the OSP centre and other resources (data centre, PABX, telecom resources) of OSP are at different locations.
Q14. Please provide your views whether extended OSP of existing registered OSP may be allowed without any additional telecom resource. If yes, then what should be the geographical limitation for the extended OSP centre; same building/ same campus/ same city?
Q15. Please provide your views as to how the compliance of terms and conditions may be ensured including security compliance in case of the extended OSP centre.
Q16. Do you agree with the provisions of general conditions for sharing of infrastructure between International OSP and Domestic OSP mentioned in the OSP guidelines? If not, please suggest suitable changes with justification.
Q17. Do you agree with the provisions of Technical Conditions under option -1 & 2 for sharing of infrastructure between International OSP and Domestic OSP mentioned in the OSP guidelines? If not, please suggest suitable changes with justification.
Q18. In case of distributed network of OSP, please comment about the geographical limit i.e. city, LSA, country, if any, should be imposed. In
case, no geographical limit is imposed, the provisions required to be ensure compliance of security conditions and avoid infringement to scope of authorized TSPs.
Q19. Do you agree with the provisions including of logical partitioning mentioned in the OSP guidelines for distributed architecture of EPABX? If not, please suggest suitable changes with justification.
Q20. Do you agree with the monitoring provisions of mentioned in the OSP guidelines for distributed architecture of EPABX? If not, please
suggest suitable changes with justification.
Q21. Please comment on the scope of services under CCSP/HCCSP, checks required / conditions imposed on the CCSP/ HCCSP including regulating under any license/ registration so that the full potential of the technology available could be exploited for both domestic and international OSP, and there is no infringement of the scope of services of authorized TSPs.
Q23. Do you agree with the provisions for use of CUG for internal communications of OSP as mentioned in the OSP guidelines? If not, please suggest suitable changes with justification.
Q24. Do you agree with the monitoring provisions for use of CUG for internal communications of OSP mentioned in the OSP guidelines? If not, please suggest suitable changes with justification.
Q25. Do you agree with the provisions of ‘Work from Home’ mentioned in the OSP guidelines? If not, please suggest suitable changes with justification.
Q26. Whether domestic operations by International OSPs for serving their customers in India may be allowed? If yes, please suggest suitable terms and conditions to ensure that the scope of authorized TSP is not infringed and security requirements are met.
Q27. Whether use of EPABX at foreign location in case of International OSPs may be allowed? If yes, please suggest suitable terms and conditions to ensure that the scope of authorized TSP is not infringed and security requirements are met.
Q28. Do you agree with the Security Conditions mentioned in the Chapter V of the OSP guidelines? If not, please suggest suitable changes with justification.
Q29. Do you agree with the provisions of penalty mentioned in the OSP guidelines? If not, please suggest suitable changes with justification.
Q30. Whether OSP to OSP interconnectivity (not belonging to same company/ LLP/ group of companies) providing similar services should be allowed? If yes, should it be allowed between domestic OSPs only or between international and domestic OSPs also.
Q31. In case OSP interconnectivity is allowed, what safeguards should be provisioned to prevent infringement upon the scope of licensed TSPs.
Q32. Do you agree with the miscellaneous provisions mentioned in the Chapter VI of the OSP guidelines? If not, please suggest suitable changes with justification.
Q33. What provisions in the terms and conditions of OSP registration may be made to ensure OSPs to adhere to the provisions of the TCCCPR, 2018.
Q34. Stakeholders may also provide their comments on any other issue relevant to the present consultation.