Changes to UK Mobile billing

 

By Simon Woodhead

TLDR: The UK mobile breakouts you know have been massively consolidated into far fewer categories. We do not expect this to have any discernible impact on your billed amounts.

Back in the day, every UK mobile network had a different rate, and flip-flopped (remember that?) on a monthly basis. There were also a whole load of virtual mobile operators, personal numbers, pagers and offshore jurisdictions who shared the +447 prefix.

It became a hugely complicated mess with, in our case, 26 distinct breakouts with between them 1,159 prefixes at the last count. While we favour granularity over so called “blending”, things are overdue a tidy-up industry-wide. We’ve decided to kickstart that process.

Ofcom charge-control UK mobile, so apart from intentional exceptions such as the offshore operators and pagers, and the exceptions in those who just ignore teacher, ultimately the inter-carrier rate should be the same for all operators. Previous exceptions such as Personal Numbers are no more, at the inter-carrier level at least – they’re charge-controlled as mobile numbers inter-carrier although some retail providers have yet to get the memo! Where the difference comes in is how a given network accesses that rate, and whether a premium needs adding for third party transit, or even multi-party transit.

As we said in a recent blog, we’re perilously close to having the full deck of major operators directly connected over private interconnects, so we need no transit for them. For smaller operators we do, so we consume transit for them. Eliminating transit is a key part of our strategy as it maximises quality, security and economics for our customers. So this in a nutshell is the categorisation we’ve decided to go with, following closely the structure we adopted for UK Fixed some months ago.

Breakouts will now be:

  • UK – Mobile – Simwood
    Our mobile ranges and those hosted on our network for which we offer the charge-controlled rate.
  • UK – Mobile – Simwood Peers
    This should be where most of your traffic goes as it represents the majors. Today it includes O2, Vodafone and a few others. It will include EE in the next month or so once our new interconnect concludes testing.
  • UK – Mobile – Full Transit
    These are the operators we’re not directly interconnected with. In some cases, such as Three, this is a “yet”. It also includes old Personal Number ranges which are now subject to charge-control at the inter-carrier level.
  • UK – Mobile – Offshore or Questionable
    We have had a ‘Questionable’ category for some time, and you shouldn’t see any volume of legitimate calls to it. We have lumped the handful of offshore (Jersey/Guernsey/Isle of Man) codes in here now though as, whilst they use the +447 prefix, they charge a substantially higher rate than onshore networks are capped at.
  • UK – Pager
    This was itself multiple breakouts but has been consolidated.

Naturally, we could have consolidated further but the separation of Simwood/Simwood Peers/Full Transit enables our customers to see at a glance how calls are routed and thus the value we’re adding. We expect if other networks were to follow this structure [honestly], in many cases it’d expose quite a lot about their lack of interconnectedness and thus highlight the Simwood difference. 

We have also performed a massive consolidation of prefixes which has cut the size of our list by well over 25% / 50k prefixes. This makes it more efficient when loaded into LCRs. Keep in mind if you’re doing human analysis of our rates that there are numerous lengths of prefix and whilst UK mobile for example is typically allocated in 100k number blocks, we have some aggregation to 10m now! As a result +447 is 35% of the size it was before at just 411 prefixes! Other destinations such as Mexico have seen huge consolidation too. I know it is sad I get excited about this stuff!

These changes will all be visible in the next rate update but we wanted to give you the heads-up just in case you were relying on our breakouts in some way. If so, this change will affect you more than others.

I hope you like these changes and naturally, please let us know what you think either way.