COVID-19 – Getting back on our collective feet

 

By Simon Woodhead

It has been an interesting couple of months, but the signs are there that as an industry and economy we’re poised to begin the recovery. How long it takes, or how fast it goes remains to be seen.

Whilst some customers of ours have grown exponentially during this crisis, it’ll be welcome relief to those who have shut up shop until their respective industries are allowed to recommence trading. We’re somewhere in the middle – it has been commercially quieter mirroring the wider economy I think, but incredibly busy at the same time as we’ve kept key projects moving ahead; thankfully.

At this point, I thought it appropriate to recap and pull together the numerous incremental changes we’ve made to help where we can. It matters that all customers know what help is available on the way out of this, as much as going in.

Discounted call rates
With the combination of the competitive price-matching we started last year, and the reduced costs from CLI filtering that you helped us implement, we’ve been able to pass on significant discounts across a large number of rates, generally 90%+.

Separately, the astute will have spotted in yesterday’s rate update that we’ve also tweaked our NGCS Access Charges. We’ve reduced these by 75% on Virtual Interconnect and eliminated them completely for Managed Interconnect.

These changes can make a huge difference to your margins as we bounce back so be sure to take advantage or send us your CDRs for comparison.

Lastly, for those non-customers with high volume termination needs (5+ figure monthly spend) that value quality, we have introduced our Carrier Deck. This sits between Virtual Interconnect and Managed Interconnect rate-wise according to potential volume.

Minimum spend changes
We have deferred the signalled increase in our Startup Account minimum spend, keeping it at £250 per month until at least May 31st 2021.

At the same time, we have removed the minimum spend on Developer accounts altogether from July 1st. To combat abuse and ensure these accounts are not used in a production environment all calls will have an appropriate whisper from July 1st.

Lastly, we know the 1p minimum spend is an issue for some Startup customers and we therefore lowered the level at which it will be waived. Customers agreeing to a £500 minimum spend (our previously signalled increase anyway) for 12 months can have the 1p minimum call charge waived. This was previously a £1k per month commitment.

Removing the minimum top-up
We initially removed the minimum prepayment top-up for those who were willing and able to send money to the right bank account with the right reference. This was initially until June 30th but we’re now extending that until September 30th. Send us what you can and don’t worry about the minimum.

We subsequently automated GBP payments so you can now top-up 24×7 and usually have it processed within minutes, saving the need for emergency (and chargeable) credit card top-ups.

There is a stick to go with this carrot but if you’re reading this it probably doesn’t apply to you! To accompany the above, we’ve introduced a charge for having to manually find, identify and process payments for those who cannot follow basic instructions no matter how condescendingly I preface them. Payments sent to the wrong bank account, or with War and Peace as a reference will be subject to delay and a processing charge.

Commercial / payment holiday
Before going too much further I should be upfront and be clear that what follows isn’t a blank cheque. We have said no to numerous chancers and been frankly appalled at some of the attempts – like the company who’s CEO earns £140m a year, has blockbuster quarterly results, yet wanted 10% off their bill just because they had an excuse to demand! Or the people who only ever pay an invoice when things stop working wanting a 6 month extension. Or the guy who claimed to be infected (within minutes of us putting out the offer) and wanted releasing from his contract so he could spend more money with a competitor, who he hadn’t asked for help. No, just no! We have a strong sense of where behaviour has changed, genuine need and what is ultimately fair all round. Sadly people genuinely in need are less inclined to ask for help, but we’re very keen to help where we can and doing so feels right.

Free migration to Simwood Partner
Accounts cannot co-exist as Wholesale and Partner below the Virtual Interconnect and Managed Interconnect levels (where we have a unique hybrid proposition), but our Partner account is commercially more suitable for some customers. There is normally a £500 charge to cover set-up and white-label preparation but this has been waived, as have internal porting fees too, for those who wish to migrate from Wholesale to Partner. We’ve seen good take up on this so have given it some thought. It is extended to July 31st.

Revised Porting Policy and export fees
We’ve changed our porting policy and cut our export fees for our customers acting in good faith who happen to lose a customer.

At the same time as the above we’ve published our understanding of who hosts who. This reduces your time and end-user friction in determining where numbers are likely to be hosted, and thus who you want us to submit a porting request to. This can greatly assist with those resellers who prefer to lie about being the carrier or otherwise make life tricky for end-users exercising their rights!

We expect porting activity to pick up as your customers realise what they’ve missed over these recent months and want to ensure they can work effectively in the future. Hopefully this’ll help you bring them over to the light.

Free stuff
We have numerous technical solutions that are available for free to help you, or your customers, get by (or thrive!) in the remote working paradigm. These were explained more fully in March, along with other things we were doing, but in summary:

  • WireGuardVPN. We open sourced our fixes to make it easy for you to add users rapidly to the best VPN there is.
  • Communicator. We and Simwood Partner customers have made massive use of our WebRTC based soft-phone – Communicator. It is free for all Partners and end-users. The iOS app previewed at SimCon is now in public beta on iOS and will be available for Android in the next few weeks. Simwood Partner and Hybrid customers are very welcome to participate.
  • Simwood Meet. Originally just a highly-available instance of Jitsi Meet, to ease Zoom woes for us and customers, this has grown legs. It is now deployed globally with numerous enhancements and seeing crazy usage. The iOS app now has thousands of users too. It has helped some of you find new opportunities through this crisis and we’re having interesting conversations about us powering your own front-end implementations.
  • Not exactly free but it may as well be! Remember you can port mobile numbers into Simwood and have calls delivered as SIP. I’ve worked this way for years but it is a great solution for numerous scenarios in these times.
  • If you’re already connected to our network (with Direct Connect or over an IXP) we’re very happy to offer you free IP Transit or other network services until things return to normal.

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I hope something in there makes a difference for you and helps you make the most of the recovery. Stay safe!