Tapan K Patra, Director, Association of Competitive Telecom Operators (ACTO)

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Please give us an idea about your professional background and your role as Director of Association of Competitive Telecom Operators (ACTO).

Tapan K Patra. I am in telecom sector for last 29 years. Prior to ACTO, I had worked with Government, Indian Companies and Global MNC. As Director at ACTO, I am responsible to work with Government and regulatory bodies for resolving regulatory/licensing/policy related issues on NLD/ILD/ISP/UL-VNO licenses and to facilitate the deployment of new technologies like M2M/IoT and Cloud etc.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the telecoms and infrastructure market?

Tapan K Patra. Since last two years, we are in COVID-19 pandemic. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, maintaining distance – in a way physical isolation is one of the key factors. Telecom along with the IT infrastructure inherently provides the virtual closeness to meet the various requirements keeping the physical isolation. Thus telecom & IT infrastructure has enormously helped to the business continuity, various requirements of people, Government, Industry, Education and Medical requirements etc. As a result, telecom industry has not only helped but also gained during the pandemic. More emphasis has been put to further enhance the telecom infrastructure across the globe.

Has anything changed from a legal and regulatory perspective?

Tapan K Patra. COVID-19 pandemic has changed from regulatory perspective in India as well in many other countries. Policy/ regulatory requirements have been modified to facilitate Work From Home (WFM). Earlier, there were very stringent requirement from the Government for WFH like Bank guarantee, static IP and prior approval for location etc and those conditions have been done away with or relaxed. Worldwide, WFM is a new norm now.

In such a challenging voice world, do you think there is an increasing need to change the way you serve your customers, with more automation and self-serve tools to improve efficiency?

Tapan K Patra. Automation and use of tools in the work place not only increases the efficiency of the system but also provides robust evidence by keeping the record of every actions and thereby fixing the accountability.

In such a challenging environment, what do you think has been and will continue to be the key to ACTO’s success?

Tapan K Patra. ACTO being a leading industry association has played important role through advocacy with the Government to facilitate WFH by getting relaxation and doing away with the stringent requirements existed prior to COVID-19 pandemic. Last few years, ACTO had successfully worked with DOT/TRAI to have simplified guidelines for Other Service Providers (OSP) those provide the BPO/KPO services in India. ACTO is working with DOT/TRAI for the ease of doing business and for the further reform in the telecom licensing framework.

What about this industry intrigues you?

Tapan K Patra. Communication is a basic need of the human being and telecom industry provides the same. I am in the telecom industry from the beginning of my professional career and had also interest in it from my student phase of life. I have been in the part of the many developments of this industry like from electro mechanical switch to fully IP based digital system.

What other issues does ACTO plan to address in the industry?

Tapan K Patra. ACTO is working with many issues but recently we are focussing on the ease of doing business and for the further reform in the telecom licensing framework.

Finally, what is your vision for the industry?

Tapan K Patra. Telecom is an important industry. It facilitates many aspects of the people to make ease of living. In order to make it happen, major reform in the telecom licensing and removal of various regulatory restrictions are essential for the growth of this industry as well as for further investment in this sector. I would like to see this to happen in next few year time.