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Zoom to launch VoIP services, awaits govt clearance: APAC head

Zoom to launch VoIP services, awaits govt clearance: APAC head
22 Nov, 2022
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Video collaboration service provider Zoom is planning to launch its Zoom Phone service in India and is waiting for regulatory approval, Ricky Kapur, head of Asia Pacific for Zoom, told Mint. Zoom Phone is a voice over internet protocol (VoIP) based service, that allows businesses to make phone calls using Zoom. Similar services are also offered by competitors Microsoft Teams and Cisco’s WebEx.

“We are working on a feature called Zoom Phone, which has been very successful globally. We are working through a regulatory process to get it launched in India,” Kapur told Mint during a telephonic interaction last week.

The company’s move comes at a time when the Indian government has been pushing for over-the-top (OTT) players like WhatsApp, Zoom and others to obtain telecom licenses for providing calling services. 

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In August, the Department of Telecom (DoT) asked the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to prepare a framework for regulating platforms offering internet calling and messaging services in India. The draft Indian Telecommunication Bill, 2022, which was released in September for public consultation, also proposes that OTT platforms that offer telecom services should obtain a license just like telecom operators.

While Kapur didn't share more details on the exact nature of the license and clearances that it requires to offer the Zoom Phone service in India, in September, Cisco subsidiary Webex India, became the first OTT player to receive a telecom license in India. Cisco had said at the time that the license will allow the company to offer enhanced Webex collaboration services to customers in India. Like Zoom, WebEx is also used by businesses for video communication, calling etc.

“We are committed to supporting our users in India and look forward to offering the ability to make phone calls with the same ease and familiarity as Zoom Meetings,” said Kapur.

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Further, Kapur said that India is a “strategically important” market for Zoom. “We have a strong successful business in India and are launching more products,” he added. Zoom is also looking to expand partnerships with developers, distributors, third-party apps and hardware ecosystem providers in the country. 

“We will also see growth come from third-party platforms that are embedding Zoom’s SDK (software development kit) for video, voice, and chat,” said Kapur. SDKs are used by developers to create apps that tap into the features and services provided by another app.

With the return to work, many of the pandemic-era trends are being rolled back. Kapur, however, claimed that Zoom is seeing new business opportunities. “We are moving from being a loved app for video conferencing to becoming a broad communications platform that covers all forms of communication,” he said, adding that users are also “actively” using metaverse features like digital avatars in Zoom meetings.

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“We are looking closely at the kind of experimentation people are doing on these platforms (like Meta’s Horizon Worlds). Everyone is not working virtually five days a week. But there are going to be days where half of the people will be in the office and the rest will not be in the office. We aim to connect the two communities with technology,” said Kapur, noting that Zoom meetings are also available on Meta’s Horizon Worlds platform, which is at the centre of that firm’s plans to build future metaverses.

In April, the US-based company announced its second technology center in Chennai, after opening its first such center in Bengaluru in July, 2020. Kapur said that the company is continually hiring people in India. Kapur said that the recent economic downturn worldwide has led more companies to become more cost conscious and they are asking for ways to acquire customers at lower cost.