Carrier Services Pricing Review

 

By Simon Woodhead

We don’t go in for annually escalating prices like some, or even annual reviews, and in reality operate in a market where prices are generally decreasing over time. I learned from an early mentor that you make your money on the buy-side; the market chooses the price. However, no doubt like you, our payroll expenses have gone orbital, data centre electricity cost increases make my eyes water, and we’ve yet to see the effect of our industry specific CPI linked increases due in April. So, we need to review our prices and below is a summary of where we are.

Before doing so, I want to affirm our commitment to not follow the blanket despicable CPI+3.9% approach (or even RPI+3.9% in some cases) taken by most of our industry, especially at the retail end. In this review some of our rates will increase more than CPI+3.9%, others have fallen recently, and overall we’ll be substantially below that. Our focus has been to leave commoditised items alone and follow the market there (e.g. when regulated UK fixed and mobile rates increase in April) while seeking to monetise some of the unique value we add, which previously we’ve given away for little or nothing. I hope we’ve got the balance right.

Most of these changes will take effect March 1st, some later. This and, if necessary, subsequent blogs will give further details, and we’ll be proactively contacting some customers to actively help avoid some of the increases; we’ve taken the opportunity to make some things more efficient and reduce the waste encouraged by them being free. That means some of you have some tidying up to do to avoid new charges. We’ll all end up in a much better place. I’m talking here specifically about the new charge for number configurations described below.

Lastly before diving into the details, these charges are our rate card and will apply to all accounts by default. However, accounts with atypical usage, e.g. high volume SMS, may be eligible for a bespoke rate. We’ll generally want a committed spend to reflect the rate offered of course. Please speak to Frazer if this is relevant to you.

And now into the detail:

Minimum spend

It is 4 years since we last increased our minimum spend and although we signalled a further increase due in June 2020, given the challenges at the time we deferred it. I’d encourage you to read the narrative around that deferral and our reasons for needing to increase it, although that was 3 years ago and we didn’t!

Effective March 1st, the minimum spend on all Startup, Virtual Interconnect and Managed Interconnect accounts will increase to £500 per month. To be clear, that means your April 1st invoice may have an uplift on it to bring your March spend up to £500 if below. Spend includes call charges (but not top-ups obviously) and almost anything from the Simwood portfolio including connectivity, IP transit and co-location outside of voice. It excludes porting export fees however!

We do not envisage changing the minimum spend again in the foreseeable future.

Trunks

Simwood trunks differ from the conventional definition in that they are more of an administrative link for inbound numbers and outbound authentication. You see trunk names in any fraud alerts, can define fraud controls by trunk and have trunk based balances you can use; you DO NOT need a trunk for every customer or piece of equipment though. Some customers use one trunk for everything, and we give a free first trunk to support this. Others use a trunk per data-centre to see where the problem is in any alerts. Others still use a trunk per end-user or one per end-user location for fine-grained fraud control or to assist with billing. They’re very flexible.

Startup customers will see trunk rentals (beyond the first free one) increase to £3/trunk/month from March 1st (invoiced April 1st). Virtual Interconnect and Managed Interconnect customers will see no change.

Registration Proxy

Our Registration Proxy is something that looks to attract arbitrage in that most people using it have end-users mapped directly against it. They are thus unable to perform any trouble-shooting before opening tickets about their ‘wholesale’ service consumption and are probably not operating a platform of any kind. This usage could and should be against our Partner service, rather than Carrier Services. We have not deprecated it yet as there are legitimate wholesale applications for it but to discourage this usage and encourage migration to Simwood Partner, accounts will be charged an additional £2 per trunk/month based on the maximal Registration Proxy usage in the preceding calendar month, e.g. 30 users/trunks connected all month from 40 devices would be 30 x £2. 1 trunk connected for 3 days with 1 device would be 1 x £2. This is effective March 1st, invoiced April 1st. Please note that this charge is a surcharge to the above trunk charge.  

Number configurations

Our API enables every number to potentially have a unique config, but we also enable a default config at account level to apply to all unconfigured numbers and it has helpful placeholders (e.g. the number) so one config can drive an unlimited quantity of numbers. Most customers should only need the account-level default config, which itself can be extremely comprehensive and handle failover, time of day, hunting etc., but they can still override the default wherever required with a config set on any number. Similarly, deleting a number-level config will force the usage of the account-level default.

Unfortunately, a number of customers have taken to configuring every number individually but essentially the same, barring differences which the placeholders in the default config would accommodate (e.g. the number). The worst offender has millions of configs, but we recently had one customer map 50k numbers individually to a non-existent domain because they were unallocated. Neither should be necessary at the carrier side of things.

Accordingly, from May 1st (invoiced June 1st) we will be charging £1/number-level config/month. Note a config can contain multiple steps applied to a single number or as a default. The account-level default config is free and is all the majority of use-cases will need. 

As this is potentially a huge charge for some, that we’d prefer you to avoid, we will be contacting the most affected and we have allowed extra time for customers to revert to using a default configuration. This charge is intended to discourage using number-level configs, or capture value added where essential. It should not come as a surprise to anyone given the notice we’re giving.

Further, we anticipate a common feature request being “can I have multiple defaults”. The answer to that is ‘no’, but we will be introducing a new feature which solves the same problem. 

Today you can link a given number to a trunk, but, as mentioned above, this link is administrative in that calls will route as configured, which has nothing to do with the trunk. This is distinct to other operators we know, and therefore we’re going to change it. Once this feature is live, a trunk will have an inbound configuration, rather like the default configuration. You can leave a number unmapped and it’ll use the default; you can map to a trunk and it’ll use the trunk configuration if present; or you can create a configuration for that number specifically. The lowest level configuration will apply for any given number.

The charge is £1/number-level config/month whilst any trunk-level configuration is free and can apply to all numbers associated with that trunk. Similarly, you can use the default account-level configuration which itself can map to multiple redundant endpoints and remains free.

UK geographic and 03 numbering

Our number rental rates for Startup customers (and those on other service levels but out of contract minimum term) remain unchanged at 50p/number/month. However, our in-term Virtual Interconnect and Managed Interconnect customers will see an increase to 10p/number/month on renewal. We will not be increasing any rates in-term.

Previously these were 50p/number/year and then as an incentive to renew, we made this 50p/number/contract-term; both of these offering a massive discount for paying potentially 5 years in advance. The downside here was that it made for a very big bill on renewal which a number of customers have raised as a future concern. A charge of 10p/number per month will therefore kick in on contract renewal instead.

UK mobile numbering

Monthly rental for Startup customers will increase to £3/number/month from March 1st (invoiced April 1st). It’ll remain unchanged for Virtual Interconnect and Managed Interconnect customers.

SMS

The ability to send SMS through our API with no specific commit but at a very aggressive rate is valued by many. SMS is where we started (if you don’t know the story: ‘eSMS’ in our name was the world’s first global SMS<>Internet gateway and preceded the aggregator model) and quality is excellent, with 100% of messages delivered into a major UK and international mobile operator’s SMSC directly. We do not drop n% of messages on the floor to meet an n-1% discount to the price like the aggregators must to meet some of the pricing and delivery stats we’ve seen.

Effective March 1st:

  • Our headline 2p/SMS-part across all service levels for +44 delivery will increase to 3p for Virtual Interconnect and Managed Interconnect customers, and 4p for Startup customers.
  • SMS to +441 and +442 numbers will be charged at 6p/SMS-part across all service levels. 
  • We will be breaking out UK offshore and certain other operators (Jersey, Guernsey, Manx etc.) and treating them as international, despite the +447 prefix. Affected prefixes can be seen in our voice rates under the ‘UK – Mobile – Offshore & Questionable’ breakout. International messages, including UK offshore, will be increasing to 20p/SMS-part. Background to this breakout can be found in our recent post about Changes to UK Mobile billing.

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This post is a heads-up to explain the changes. Formal rate sheets (most changed above are in the Ancillary Services and Numbering sheets) and our MSA have been updated accordingly and, where indicated, we’ll be reaching out to people directly to further help. Changing prices is rarely welcomed but I do hope we’ve struck a fair balance, as that was our intention.