Get your income more quickly!

Simon Woodhead

Simon Woodhead

1st November 2013

A new month begins and the SSDs here are warm from the reporting. It may be the first of the month but our invoices to interconnected carriers were done by 8am, despite representing millions of calls and customers using our Virtual Interconnect product, or those earning out-payments on our numbering have already been given their revenue reports and know where they are. So what?

Well, some of our competitors would like you to think big is better and try to suggest that them being big means you earn more margin. That is disingenuous for reasons we’ll explain shortly but let’s just deal with the ‘big’ argument first. The single largest fixed line operator in the UK is only the 94th largest operator in the world, and they only entered the top 100 this year. They’re a flea on the behind of the industry Goliaths. We’re not sure what that makes the rest of us in the industry but ‘big’ certainly isn’t a word that can be used. Keep this in mind next time a competitor sends you an email saying how large they are and perhaps question why they’re telling you that rather than what new API they’ve introduced or that they’ve introduced HD voice or other new anti-fraud features.

The truth is size is irrelevant, what matters is being on-the-ball. Whilst Simwood may seem large to some of our customers, it is all relative and we’re realistic about being microscopic in the context of this industry. We’re proud to be on-the-ball though as that is what enables us and our customers to deliver better value to end-users and in doing so earn more, and keep more of it. Let’s elaborate a little.

Some may claim that because they’re big you earn more income on hosted numbers because they can negotiate better rates. To put it politely: crap! As we tried to argue to OFCOM recently, for the vast majority of networks in this country rates are dictated and very hard to deviate from. Yes, the big two or three national networks may argue over who does what and vary rates marginally as a result but we doubt their CP customers see the benefit of that. Anyone else gets what they’re given.

However, this isn’t strictly true when it comes to non-geographic number ranges transiting BT where the rate levied is based on the distance the call travelled across the BT network. Of course, more interconnects potentially shortens some of the distances but multiplies the billing complexity. You also have to ask what they cost and are they owned – does your bigger provider send outage reports blaming “our carrier” for example? We have a small number of points of interconnect with a focus on redundancy and they are direct without the complexity or cost of a third party carrier. From a billing perspective the rate is not based on just where the call went to and when, but where it came from. To compute that is based on the co-incidence of over 50m source number prefixes with 60 different rates and that is for each number range and computed for every single call and multiplied by the number of points of interconnect. Those 50m source number prefixes change monthly and the rates change too. So, having identified the rate and point of interconnect, the billing network needs to establish which of 3 billion permutations (50m x 60 rates) applies for that combination. Of course, one can make assumptions, update data infrequently and take other measures to simplify the process but we don’t; we’re on top of rate and source prefix changes such that we bill the right amount to the interconnected network. Further, our payments to customers are driven from the same CDRs we use for onward billing so there can be no slippage in between.

We therefore suggest that when you’re considering a network to trust your numbering to, ask yourself how on-the-ball they are before listening to how big they are. If they’ve not delivered innovation in some time and don’t give you real-time CDRs through a nice API, how on-the-ball are they with their onward billing? Do they take some time after month end to report revenue to customers suggesting the billing process is disjointed? Do they perhaps report rate changes in hand-crafted e-mails suggesting a potential disconnect between published rates and actual charges? What architecture are they actually running underneath and how on-the-ball do they seem?

We do provide real-time CDRs to our customers because we bill real-time, both customer facing, interconnect facing, and where appropriate the out-payment to our customer. Source data is updated as it changes and some of the same technologies than enable us to perform real-time big data analysis enable us to bill the right amount at the right time. That enables us to maximise the value we deliver to our customers and ultimately their profitability.

Much of the above is qualitative but if you have number ranges hosted with another network or use another operator’s numbering, why not send us a month’s CDRs? We’ll run them through our billing engine and report how much you would have earned had those calls come into the Simwood network. You can then decide whether size matters for yourself.

Enjoy your weekend and if you find yourself fretting over what income you had in October, remember: Simwood customers knew this morning.

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