BT Zero

By Simon Woodhead

It is widely regarded that ‘Inbox zero’ leads to a state of calm and reduced stress. We’ve embarked on a project we call ‘BT Zero’ and as well as calm and reduced stress, we also think it has many other benefits!

There are those happy to simply resell the former monopoly, and even some who think doing so makes them ‘big and clever’ because they have a ‘BT Interconnect’ – they don’t. There are others who somehow think that the PSTN == BT and thus everyone is reselling them anyway. Whilst that is the direction things seem to be heading it is far from the truth.

We believe in a fair and transparent marketplace where consumers benefit from genuine choice in an environment where competent competitors offer choice and innovative services. We’re far from that place sadly but we hope the CMA will act to end some of the dirty tricks we believe to be happening.

Meanwhile, we’ve embarked on a project here we’re calling BT Zero. Our aim is to have zero traffic leaving the network over BT and an absolute minimum entering from it. This means we’ll be leveraging some of our regulatory rights to directly access other networks, and seeking far more bilateral relationships. The Open Porting Initiative is a part of this but ultimately, we want to be delivering traffic as directly as possible, on commercial terms that are agreed with people we actually trust, over transports that make technical sense and deliver the best experience for our collective end users.

Anyone who runs an IP network will know what a no-brainer peering is, from a performance and availability perspective at least. Sending traffic bilaterally rather than transiting through a larger operator charging both sides for the privilege is so much better. In that world of course, the larger operator hasn’t been gifted multiple further windfalls by the regulator at expense of competitive operators along the way. They’ll also know of the politics and gaming that can go on, so it is going to be a fun journey! We’ve done the easy bit over many years, we now need to knuckle down and tackle the harder ones.

As a result of policy here, BT is the destination for substantially less than 0.5% of our outbound traffic now. We’ve shifted that balance recently by adopting our quality and price-based routing algorithms to put BT last regardless of the price, largely because we can’t hand-on-heart trust the price. The balance flows to competitive operators for termination on their own networks, both within the UK and internationally, or transit to the appropriate place on the BT network. We’re working with them all though on growing the two-way flow of that traffic so less has to involve BT going the other way. This, of course, isn’t just here in the UK, but extends to the USA, not that BT have any relevance there.

Of course, who are we in this huge marketplace? We’re barely a snowflake on a mountainside and we have no doubt our spend would be dwarfed many times by an accounting scandal. But as a wise man once said: an avalanche is caused by a single snowflake, you just don’t know which one. I say: Let it snow!

Already though it feels so much better than an empty inbox, it feels cleansing!