By Simon Woodhead
I get so tied up in the ‘today’ and the ‘tomorrow’ that I sometimes forget to look in the rear-view mirror. To be honest, when I do it usually makes me cross to see lies and vanity putting fake polish on turds industry-wide. So often technical competence, innovation, and investing in doing things the right way – the way that takes account of the bigger picture – get drowned out by noise. It disgusts and depresses me to the core.
Just lately though, I’m finding that rear-view terrifically amusing, seeing an entire industry flailing around with limited scope for turd-polishing! They can’t market-over a 578x cost increase. They can’t deny the lack of innovation, investment, let alone competence, that necessitates a middle-of-the-day upgrade (which they cock up causing an outage) the day before a change. They can’t deny their sell-side revenue obsession and greed, leaping like lemmings to cobble together some form of passing through surcharges because they have no idea whatsoever what calls cost and are blind to a better way. Put simply, they can’t pretend to care about customers or the ultimate consumer when their true colours are laid so bare.
An early mentor of mine once told me of an exercise where everyone holds a very long rope and blindfolded follows a leader around a yard. The leader changes direction, goes round obstacles, sees things coming. Everyone else gets jerked one direction or the other by the rope, pulled with no notice, stumbling, tripping over things. The further back along the rope they are, the more clueless and pulled about they are, and the further they get flung one way or the other. A tiny change of direction at the front is a massive swing at the back. I look in the mirror and that’s a metaphor for exactly what I see today.
Now this may sound arrogant and won’t win me new friends, hell it’ll probably get me more drunk abuse by those who consider themselves called out, but I (still) really don’t care. We’re here for our customers and the ultimate consumer, not the affection of a charlatan cohort. And don’t think I’m suggesting we’re at the front of the rope either, we’re clearly not this time. Some big companies have apparently moved so quickly a cynic might question whether they started preparing even before Ofcom had the genius idea they supported and we’re all now digesting. Undeniably, we’re pretty close to the front though.
That means some interesting things for those smart enough to choose Simwood:
No origination charges passed through
As origin charging has developed, we’ve maintained that we don’t think it is fair or appropriate to pass through surcharges, let alone join the sleaze by profiting from doing so. Passing them through is almost impossible to do fairly as some level of blending is required. Each operator who has introduced origin charging so far has implemented a unique ladder of not only rates but the origin dial-codes to which they apply, making it rather complex. Some of those passing through have simplified this to a worst case rate ladder, gifting them windfall margin at the expense of their customers and consumers. Ironically, some are lauding their blended rates for being cheaper than someone else’s non-blended rate – don’t fall for it. We don’t want to play that dirty game and have maintained that if we can avoid passing surcharges through, we will.
Thankfully, owing to innovations that whilst 10 or more years old are still unmatched, and different cultural values, we’re able to know exactly what every call costs us in real-time and can act accordingly. Further, Simwood customers did the work to ensure there was no rogue invalid callerID passing through over a year ago.
With all that combined, I’m delighted to confirm today that we will be sticking to our position of no dirty origination charges passed through for the foreseeable future. Simwood customers do not need to worry about rating and routing by origination, just send the traffic to us and relax. Those who exceptionally seek to abuse this however, will know about it nearly as quickly as we do, i.e. realtime!
With origination surcharges coming to fixed lines as well from August 1st, we think this is a massive bonus for Simwood customers!
The most interconnected voice network
Our IP network is large by any competitive standards and it serves us well. However, as a result of BTZero we’re more bilaterally interconnected than any of our peers as far as we can tell. That delivers innumerable benefits in call quality, security and resilience to third party failures. We’re also the only one amongst our perceived peers in the Secret Club. Recall we also passed on new breakouts and new rates for traffic flowing directly to peers and on-net. These remain surcharge free as well!
One of the largest UK wholesale providers
With one exception, most competitors lose wholesale amongst other business activities and dine out on overall revenue. The same revenue cannot be reapportioned indefinitely of course and when those other activities are taken out, not a lot is left for wholesale voice. Others have legacy revenue such as sex-lines which dramatically inflate revenues. Look at wholesale alone though in volume terms and there’s surprising names beneath us.
One rapidly approaching milestone is 1 billion minutes per year at wholesale, whilst we also host number ranges for dramatically more operators than most. That gives us clout dramatically above our size in revenue or profit terms (did I mention we weren’t inflating either passing through origin surcharges?) which is good for Simwood customers. We try to use that shaping the industry the right way, not for us, but for our customers and end-users.
We’re still microscopic in absolute telco terms of course but I expect our scale may come as a surprise to many.
So this is a huge thankyou to customers and colleagues past, present and intended, for trusting, supporting and driving us to here. Others have achieved a lot more in 25 years for sure, but I’m pleased with where we’ve got to with our morals and principles intact.