NGCS – 3 things to watch out for

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In a recent blog post Simon Woodhead, MD of Simwood, talks about the impact of Ofcom’s NGCS rule changes on businesses and customers.

As should be no surprise, Ofcom’s NGCS takes effect on July 1st. This is not a post about the consumer harm and confusion we think will result, nor is it about the things you need to do to be compliant – we’ve covered that elsewhere. It is instead a list of the things we think you need to watch out for to minimise the harm to your business and customers.

FreePhone traffic increase

One sensible aspect of the changes is that FreePhone calls must be free from Mobiles. For you this means some of your calls will cost substantially more to receive. But, given the prevalence of mobile phones we expect this to be a geared increase, i.e. not only will some calls cost more but there will be a lot more of them.

We prepared for this last year with the introduction of our X-Origin SIP header to enable you to filter as appropriate. Only one network has copied this so far.

NGCS Fraud

In our analysis of NGCS changes, we highlighted how the number ranges we associate with fraudulent traffic were less visible. We fear that this traffic (notably missed-call scams and dial-through-fraud) may scatter to previously well known number ranges such as 0845 and 0870.

Sadly, the fraud blacklist we have built up over many years now essentially needs resetting for the UK. There will be new numbers we do not know about and the automatic fraud protection you have enjoyed will be less effective as a result.

There will also be artificial traffic floating around seeking to capitalise on rate errors which you may see if you’ve made a mistake, or inadvertently pass one through.

Simwood is unique in offering dozens of fraud controls that we strongly recommend you implement if you haven’t already. As a minimum we suggest you lock your balance and set our unique max call cost headers in traffic you send to us. Do be careful with failover though: if we reject a call because it trips a limit you do not want to then send that to another carrier who’ll welcome the windfall profit.

Remember, we’re the only carrier who shows you real-time the value of calls in progress on your account, through our portal and API as well as real-time CDRs. How else can you keep on top of this stuff?

Rate errors

We published our draft NGCS rate sheets in May when we finished the logic to build them. Many others still haven’t! There is a reason for this: it is a hugely complicated change for the less agile to digest and as such there will be mistakes. To compound that some have relied on Ofcom’s “official” list which differs to reality.

There will be corrections to errors coming through and there will be a steady flow of amendments to legacy charge-bands that were not updated to new NGCS bands. We publish full unambiguous rate sheets with every change, generated directly from the system that bills you. Others rely on sending ambiguous hand-typed e-mails and updating multiple different databases, so be sure you’re charged what you’re told you’ll be charged!

Of course, our suggestion would be to only send your traffic to us and to make use of the above mentioned controls to ensure you pay what you expect to pay. By setting your sell price in the max-cost header for example you can ensure we only complete traffic that is profitable to you.

On a final note, we hope these changes come with minimum cost and pain for you and your customers. We’re here to help wherever we can as always. Our final July 1st rate sheets will be circulated on Wednesday once we’ve seen and processed next month’s international rate changes.