By Simon Woodhead
TLDR: Talk to us about your wholesale UK geographic and mobile termination. Whether international or domestically originated, we’re confident nobody can touch us for performance and value. Our unique positioning is why we’re still growing minute volumes +40% a year in a declining market. This post explores why.
Let’s be clear: we’re small fry. In the world of telcos, where our favourite incumbent is apparently a measly 1008th (2021 – they were 599th before destroying another $8bn or so of shareholder value last year), we’re tiny. In fact, they’re the small fry, we’re barely bacteria. I’m good with that and would like to think we’re the Cyanobacteria – the little guys responsible for photosynthesis, credited with evolution itself and a likely component in making Mars habitable! OK, I over-corrected there but the point is regardless of size, we punch dramatically above our weight and have done for nearly 25 years.
Why is that? Well, for one we care and we stand for something. Only this week I got an email from a random member of the public which was his personal telecoms biography, bemoaning just about every operator out there. He’s not the first, we’ve had phone calls from members of the public in the past thanking us for blog posts or Consultation submissions. We have our critics, many will be reading this just to get cross, but I maintain if you don’t stand for something, you stand for nothing, and then there’s no point in you! I’m proud of what we stand for and it attracts customers who care too, and repels those with different values.
But what I really wanted to talk about today was our position in the food chain. There’s so much BS in this industry – every reseller seems to be a ‘carrier’, at least until the network they’re reselling breaks – and even those who could claim the title go on to lie about their ‘global fibre network’, by which they mean some GRE tunnels over the public internet. I hate it, and hope that even though we have a marketing function nowadays, we’re not guilty of that. We rely on the clueful shopper being able to smell a rat and instead appreciate what we offer, but arguably, we don’t do enough to shout about it.
For the last 11 years or so, Simwood has been on a mission to replace our supply chain. In terms of boxes ticked, we achieved it quickly, however the latter years have been the most transformational and it is only really the last 12-18 months where we’ve capitalised on that position.
Our supply chain, in the main, comprises peers, and we own and operate everything in our stack. We resell nothing. Our IP network is crazy big for a lowly voice network, especially comparing larger providers (in revenue terms at least) and it isn’t a pseudo-network either – we own or light a lot of the fibre that we use – rather than simply consuming someone else’s network and claiming it as ours. The capacity is insane, but that is necessary for us to be able to sink large attacks on-net before needing to invoke multi-Terrabit/s DDoS scrubbing which we have permanently on standby. In fact, I recently re-wrote a technical document we put together in about 2013 on how we do everything technical, which is with the colouring-in department, and it felt good to go over all that unique value. One stat from it: 90% of the traffic traversing the Simwood network goes directly to peers, many of those being direct fibre (PI), as well as, of course, the public peering such as LINX. 90% is really high! There’s too much else technical to go into here but if you’re a customer and you want a copy, tap up your account manager. In short, we win business because of that too and, unlike strong opinions, I’m not aware of any business we lost because someone did something technically better.
What I really wanted to say here, and have wasted six paragraphs getting to, is about our commercial position in the voice market, especially in the UK. Twenty years ago it was enough to be interconnected with BT to benefit from regulated pricing. That is still a thing as they’re the former monopolist but it is much less of a differentiator today and borderline irrelevant. Whilst others harp back to the days when they could buy Range Rovers arbitraging BT, we recognise the world has moved on. We’re in the Secret Club now, preserving and enhancing those commercials, without selling out to be a BT reseller; oh, and avoiding five years of pain whilst everyone else catches up ahead of the 2026 switch-off. Realistically though today the game is about interconnectedness, and being meshed at the highest tier with as many operators as possible. That is what we’ve been working on with the BTZero initiative.
I would put it to you that as well as the hugely interconnected underlying network, Simwood is nowadays right up there as probably one of the most interconnected voice networks in the UK. Most of our traffic goes to and from the relevant peer network, directly, which has not only privacy, quality, and security benefits but optimises the economics. When I say ‘one of the’, there are of course others who have done this too, but none of our peer group to our knowledge and none with the same efficiency of operation and transparency to customers – since last week you know exactly what we’re doing with your call because we tell you in advance in our rate sheets whether we’re simply transiting, handing off to a peer, or terminating on-net. The latter two represent more traffic than you’d imagine.
Wrap all that together and you might see why we’ve picked up so much business during the last year, from quarters that would surprise you. It is also why we think everyone reading this should talk to us about UK termination. Of course, we can help internationally, but other than the USA, we don’t have the presence elsewhere so we’ll be buying termination overseas and adding value/markup. We do that well too, but fundamentally we’re 10% of the solution, not 90% of it.
But in the UK, we’re right there at the epicentre and can hands down beat anyone in the market-place, of any size, on both price and performance. If you have quality traffic (no dialler crap), whether domestic or international, talk to us and let us know what you need. We’re very keen to grow our volumes here further so please get in touch.