Vintage VoIP 2002: Start a Call Center in South Asia

Suzanne Bowen : Monetizing IP Communications
Suzanne Bowen
37 yrs in telecom, teaching, blog & grant writing, biz development, marketing, & PR. Favorite moments in life involve time w/ family & friends, networking, IP communications industry verticals & horizontals, running, traveling, foreign languages
| 1. "Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition..." Barack Obama ..... 2. "One of the sad signs of our times is that we have demonized those who produce, subsidized those who refuse to produce, and canonized those who complain." By Thomas Sowell

Vintage VoIP 2002: Start a Call Center in South Asia

Topic: How to start and operate a successful call center in Pakistan. 

Note by the author Suzanne Lombard: This is an excerpt of the tiny 26 page book written and published by me in 2002 with the goal to inspire people and organizations to study and practice English, use the Internet, voIP, and start a call center or back office in South Asia. 

This version was targeted more to Pakistan. Some of the URLs and information are outdated, but I still get emails, IMs, Facebook wall notes and voip calls from those who have read it and tell me they are somewhere in the process of starting or working with a call center or back office: studying English, getting Internet, using voIP, and putting food on the table at home.

In the year 2000, major research firms predicted that by 2003 approximately US$60 billion was expected to be spent on call center services worldwide. It's a reality, and how much of that action does Pakistan have? How much does it deserve to have? 

Enter "India Call Center" key words in and get over 200 meaningful results. Enter "Pakistan Call Center" and get seven meaningful results. 

India was already employing 16,000 personnel for USA companies two years ago (2000) with the claim that Indian call center agents are more reliable and skilled and can operate at a much lower cost per transaction than USA call centers. 

President Arroyo of the Philippines signed three major agreements with USA companies the same year. She is quoted, "To be successful, the ICT sector must be driven by the private sector, with minimal government intervention and regulation." Today, the Philippines is a major player in the outsourced call center world.

Some nations, with the same potentially well-qualified personnel for these "back offices," are still talking about "thousands of jobs will be available in call center applications in next few years." Meanwhile, the competition around those countries who are just simply waiting... are doing what it takes right now. Not right now, they began yesterday and before that. It is not thousands of jobs, it is millions.

My main objective is to clear questions you may have in your mind about call centers in Pakistan. I hope to encourage every single one of you to create a plan today to take advantage of the huge and wonderful opportunities just waiting for you in the call center, back office, and remote sales to USA business. 

Pakistan is an excellent example of a nation of many extremely fluent English-speaking and Internet literate people who have the future-thinking entrepreneurial attitude needed by USA companies looking for outsourcing their customer support, technical support, telemarketing, accounting and more. 

So, what is wrong? Internet must be more affordable, and bandwidth needs to be subsidized more. This and other kinds of encouragement will bring these companies to the Land of the Pure instead of elsewhere in the world. 

What is a call center anyway? A call center can take many forms. A mother and wife can work from the privacy of her home as a medical secretary, never leaving her children. She will be able to practice her religious beliefs and still help her family financially. Pizza delivery, medical insurance claims, book orders, travel itineraries... there is no limit to the number of jobs that are now available. Young, elderly, men, women, handicapped, and those with families or without will now have new opportunities in Pakistan to improve their economic status and use their often self-taught English, Internet, and people skills. Anyone can be a call center with these three skills. Manned by one or more than a thousand, it doesn't matter. 

What has India accomplished in comparison to Pakistan in the Call Center Choice race? Bangalore is known worldwide as IndoPak area's Silicon Valley. They were first and quickest in jumping on the software market. Now, Bangalore and the rest of India are moving to the hottest market, Call Centers. This is just a "dust in the wind" phenomenon. It is here to stay for several decades. Take a look at "Dialing for Dollars" India Call Center article and video show at On 30 December 2002, there were listed at  250 call center positions in India. 

India supports call center operations in a huge way. See the following example. 


» India has the second-largest English- speaking population in the world. 
» English is the principal language for the transaction of business

» India has the second largest and the fastest growing pool of technical manpower . 
» High availability of English speaking & educated customer care professionals. 
» Has the lowest manpower cost 
» High availablity of computer literate graduate manpower and technical manpower

Reliability and Security
The work force is highly reliable and can deliver world-class quality and ensure rapid delivery of service. Indian companies are also increasingly adapting to international quality and security standards.

» Well-connected telecommunication systems on a world-class scale . • High availability of infrastructure resources. 
» India's satellite-based telecommunication network enables almost instantaneous high-speed transfer of voice and data across the globe 

Legislative Framework
» Highly liberal Government policies on Call- center operations 
» Maintains High cost competitiveness in service sectors 
» Proactive Government - 10yr. Tax holiday • Duty free import of capital machinery and software.

Cost Benefits 
Indian companies can provide call center services to clients based in the U.S. or the U.K. at one-sixth to one-fourth of what it costs in the U.S., U.K. or Australia.

Time Zone
A virtual 12-hour time zone difference with the USA and other markets for Call Center services is in India's favor.

Pro-Active Government
The department of telecommunications, Government of India has given a special thrust to the industry by reducing the prices of high-speed international private leased circuits. The recent IT boom has prompted the Government of India to announce exemptions from income tax and customs for the exports of IT enabled services. Central and the State governments have put emphasis to set up state-of-the art infrastructure for the projected boom for IT enabled services. Private Internet gateways and 100 foreign direct investments have been given approvals. "Potentially 50-80 percent of total process costs in most IT enabled services can be out sourced offshore. As much as 70 - 80 percent costs can be reduced primarily because of wage differentials. However, in order to manage operations in remote locations, expatriate management may initially be required to support the remote locations. This together with higher telecom costs could result in additional costs of 10-20 percent. Hence there could be 50-60 percent saving on out located processes." (VCare Technologies, Market Perception Memo III, July 2000)"

Why is Pakistan not one of the choice call center locations in the world? Priorities? The infrastructure needs assistance. (Do not feel bad when I say this. No matter what you think, even in America our infrastructure needs to be improved to see better success for the people.) The opportunities must be publicized to the people. Call centers can have a location as small as a corner of one's home. Again bandwidth must be subsidized, Internet access must be affordable, and VOIP must be viewed as a friend, not the enemy. Look at these hard facts. About 2 MB of bandwidth will host about 68 phone lines at 30 Kbps per phone line. This costs US$6000/month in Pakistan and only US$1000/month in USA. 

Finally, why would a nation want to block VOIP when it should be the answer to economic improvement? Why block VOIP and not Playboy? Playboy is not blocked in Pakistan but VoIP is? Playboy uses 50% more bandwidth than VOIP, and it does nothing to improve the Pakistan citizenry. 

In fact, we all know it does a world of harm to one's emotional, social, family, spiritual life and sometimes even causes a person to lose everything he has. On the other hand, VOIP, something that is still being blocked by a few governments of the world, is a necessity for any type of call center. Something has to change. Let us see that Pakistan is the smart example and choice call center location of the world with all the tools of success and encouragement ready to get in on the action. 

... read the rest of the 26 pages of the copyrighted book sometime!
About the author in 2002:
Suzanne Lombard has a wide variety of experiences and careers. She graduated from Pensacola Junior College, Pensacola, Florida with a Liberal Arts A.A. From there, she completed her English Education B.A. major at the University of West Florida, Pensacola, Florida. She completed graduate studies in Instructional Technology at the University of West Florida and Media Education at the University of South Alabama. She is a volunteer for ITGulfcoast and Big Brothers Big Sisters and is an active member of Pensacola Chamber of Commerce and the Better Business Bureau of the United States of America.

At Renaissance Fitness Center, she managed the sales and instructor staff in the southeast USA region for six years. She taught English, Computers and Gifted Studies at Carver Middle School, Century, Florida, for sixteen years. In addition, she was the Intranet Sales Library editor and Sales Trainer at Z-Tel Communications (local and long distance CLEC). She currently holds two jobs. One, New York Times sub-contracts out to Publishers Circulation Fulfillment where she is also a sales coach. Two, she has been integral to the marketing department and other facets of Super Technologies, Inc. as CEO for four years. 

Suzanne received many awards throughout life including Middle School English Teacher of the Year and Emmit Smith Charities, Inc. Writing Award. She wrote and was granted over $500,000 worth of educational grants including Foundation of Excellence, Core Knowledge, and Gifted Studies Technology. She was named Most Valuable Player at PCF. In addition, she assisted Super Technologies, Inc. in winning Best of Show Client Device Award at Spring Internet World 2001 and Internet Telephony Magazine Editor's Choice Award I n 2000. She has traveled extensively throughout Pakistan, India, United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Germany with a mission to improve education and to share VOIP opportunities. 

Many thanks to the most creative future-thinkers Elizabeth Carden (technical researcher), Rehan Ahmed (inventor, entrepreneur, philosopher and philanthropist), Arshi Masood (excellent brainstorming partner), my son Scott Slay, my parents Ernest and Evelyn Lombard, Call Center magazine (exhaustive source for call centers) for the ideas and support in helping to spread the Call Center phenomenon and reality to new areas of the world such as the "Land of the Pure." 

Get the full hard copy by placing an order via Paypal to suzanne@..... (no longer valid email) with your complete name, shipping address, and contact phone number or email address. 
... vintage! ;-) Blog on some antique trivia about you in IP communications, okay?

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