By Simon Woodhead
We’ve long offered ethernet services and internet access, generally at the higher end of the speed range (1Gb or nowadays 10Gb) and always optical. It makes sense, we’ve got a super-performant network built for high availability and real-time traffic, which means conventional business applications fly.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t help the majority of end-users struggling to work from home, or indeed smaller businesses that have conventionally relied on broadband. I’ve long wanted us to help our customers address that market but there’s been some fairly major reasons why we couldn’t:
- Broadband is by definition contended and the performance can vary wildly, not just by installation, but over time. We could have limited control of Quality of Service, but not enough to honestly put a “this works with VoIP” badge on it.
- Until very recently broadband required a separate provision of a phone line and two fault reporting lines. It just felt a bit dirty and fraught with opportunity to disappoint end-users.
- The economics don’t work without either significant scale, or reselling someone else who is often reselling someone else. And we don’t resell. Customer expectations have changed during COVID-19, with more realising you get what you pay for, but historically it has been about price, price and price.
- With a Chairman and nowadays COO who co-founded the UK’s first dial-up ISP (Demon), and lead the first major business ISP (Easynet) in its early years, my desire to offer broadband has been met reliably with unfavourable raises of the eye-brows.
So, I can confidently say: we will not be selling broadband. Period.
So what are we doing? Well let us revisit those bullet points:
- We won’t be contending. We’ll be offering 100% provisioned capacity, all the time.
- We won’t be relying on simultaneous provision of voice lines.
- We’re in a position now to leverage our voice economics to negotiate compelling discounts.
- Grahame’s eye-brows are unflinching.
In short, we’re not offering broadband, we’re offering ethernet. We’re working directly with those who own infrastructure and can offer wholesale access, (many of them are customers already), and of course BT who have the largest footprint. To emphasise, we’re dealing directly; we’re not using aggregators or middle-men, so Simwood is in control of the experience as far as possible, short of us rolling out our own national FTTP programme.
End-user tails will be delivered over FTTP where on-net, but we’ll also be using FTTC. FTTC enables the delivery of ethernet to an end-user with a wall-port change. So whilst there is an engineer visit required, the end user gets ethernet. Key point though: this is distinct to existing EoFTTC offerings in the market which backhaul over a shared broadband network; with Simwood EoFTTC it is un-contended all the way.
For FTTP, we’re offering speeds up to 1Gb/s down, 220Mb/s up. With FTTC we’re offering 80Mb/s down and 20Mb/s up, but given the last mile isn’t fibre, this’ll be subject to a speed estimate and after installation a speed limit based on monitoring. But don’t compare these speeds to broadband; this is ethernet, all uncontended right back to the Simwood core, and of course across it.
Whilst we expect the major use case to be internet access from a single site, because this is ethernet (or MPLS as competitors like to call it to sound clever!?) we can do all manner of hub-and-spoke or site to site configurations, just as we can and do with bigger full optical ethernet installations.
And this is where you come in. We have a Minimum Viable Product but we want early adopters to engage with us and have meaningful conversations around disruptive price points, and template configurations. We of course have some ideas, but we need to test those. Our goal is for this to be fully automated through our APIs and portal and priced to get substantial volume. We could copy what everyone else does but, well, you know!
So if you have use cases we can run through with you, or vanilla installations we can quote for, please get in touch with your account manager. This won’t be slick and automated on day one, we need to do things manually to learn what and where to automate. But at least there won’t be 7 resellers in a pile doing it manually like elsewhere!