Comms Business Live S4Ep4
DAVID DUNGAY [00:01:52] Welcome to Comms Business Live. Hi, my name’s David Dungay, editor of Comms Business magazine. We’re here today to talk about the auto switch rules, which came in just one week ago. You may know them as text to switch also. So I have with me my expert panel. Welcome to the show. We do a few introductions. Chris, tell us who you are away from.
CHRIS ROSE [00:02:12] Thanks very much. And thank you for having me here. So, Chris Rose, one of the mobile specialists within Gamma, Gamma are a B2B wholesale provider? Providing all your telephony needs is probably a bit of a cheesy line but it’s true. Anything from mobile through to fixed line data, connectivity, UCAS, etc, etc. and cloud PBX got to get in there as well.
DAVID DUNGAY [00:02:33] Ricky.
RICKY SHOCK [00:02:35] Yeah. I’m Ricky Shock. I’m the mobile product manager at Digital Wholesale Solutions, formerly Data Wholesale. And again, we offer a very different solutions throughout channel. And I’m looking forward to this one.
DAVID DUNGAY [00:02:47] Lovely, last but not least Ben.
BEN SUGDEN [00:02:49] I’m Ben Sugden And I’m from Abzorb. I’m head of product development there, we as Abzorb we’re universal, unified comms provider operate in mainly in a B2B market. And my team have pretty much built the tools that have allowed us to support auto switch.
DAVID DUNGAY [00:03:04] Lovely. Right. So to my audience, if you have any burning questions for my panel here, make sure you tweet them using the hashtag CB Live 19 thats CB Live 19, and we’ll put them to the panel to get all of your questions answered. I should say so. First and foremost, should we outline the rules that came into full force just last week? What do they mean for the B2B sector? Ricky do you want to kick us off on that one.
RICKY SHOCK [00:03:31] Yes. So there’s new legislation been released essentially to make switching easier for the end user, aimed to address three major points for the end user, which is the complications that they sometimes experience when moving providers. It’s to help improve downtime while switching providers. And it’s also to ensure that we can keep business moving simpler, you know?
DAVID DUNGAY [00:04:00] Brilliant. Okay, Chris.
CHRIS ROSE [00:04:02] I think just to add on from what Ricky said is that it is really so taken down the barriers, whereas before it’s always seen the people having to ring through to retention departments. It can be a bit sort of bullyish a bit stand offish is to take that sort of headache away from it and just make it easier for it for the end user to be able to move from one provided to the other.
DAVID DUNGAY [00:04:21] Shall we outlined a few sort of key differences of we’ve got the consumer rules which relate to, you know, two minutes. I think you’ve got to get the details back.
RICKY SHOCK [00:04:30] I think officially it’s more like two hours. I think you do have a little bit of time, but the whole process is supposed to be automated to the point where it’s almost immediate. Yeah. And for consumers, what consumers before, for partners, for people sell in on business contracts, you have up to two working days to respond.
DAVID DUNGAY [00:04:46] So is there a bit of leeway there, so I guess the next question is other part of the partner channel, are they are they ready for this Ben what do you think?
BEN SUGDEN [00:04:54] I think the partner channel can be ready for this. If they’ve partnered with the right service provider. Many of us have invested a great deal of time and effort in developing the tools that partners can use to respond in the timescales that Ofcom are demanding is key. To remember that that two day turnaround only really applies to the smaller 1 to 24 CLI. Anything larger than that. It’s business as usual. It’s as things were before last week. Okay.
DAVID DUNGAY [00:05:27] And Chris, I mean, are you seeing any partners? I mean, we are only a week in? What are you seeing are partners coming unstuck already?
CHRIS ROSE [00:05:36] Touch wood not yet. Erm they’ve had lots of educating from our side in terms of integrating over their own processes to get them up to speed but we haven’t had anyone caught out as of yet, but we’re very fortunate where you know, we’re probably a B2B provider. So all of our tabs our business tabs. So we do have a bit of leeway whilst we can provide information in 60 seconds. We do have the two working days that Ricky spoke about a second ago.
DAVID DUNGAY [00:06:01] Okay. Well, let’s outline some some of the risks. There’s a lot of people in the chain. Some of these partners and dealers to get their information from. What what are the major risks for for partners and perhaps not being able to comply? Ricky
RICKY SHOCK [00:06:16] I think you need to look at theres three areas that are covered by the legislation, theres three methods of contact. So we have by phone, we have online and you have by sms. Now, by far sms is the one that impacts us all and where we’ve all to do a significant amount of investment in development in order to make that process work. You can’t forget about the other two options. You know, the legislation does state that end users need an online platform to be able to go and request that should they require. And also that as a service provider or a bill provider to your end user if they call you, you should be able to produce that information on your internal systems again, either within 60 seconds or within the specified time scales. So I think when you split it into three. The risks are that you need to ensure you can do is over the phone. You can provide it by sms and that you can support it via either your online portal or Website with a platform for people to be able to go online and get it.
DAVID DUNGAY [00:07:14] Sure. Okay. And it’s not it’s not just a pat code itself, is it is all outstanding information as well. In terms of billing and that kind of thing, isn’t it?
RICKY SHOCK [00:07:22] Yeah. And one thing we’ve not touch based on as of yet is this. There’s a new code that’s being introduced known as a stack code as well. So everyone’s familiar with Pat code point authorization code. It’s used to transfer your existing number from one provider to a new provider. The stack code is used in a very similar way. It essentially gives ownership of cancellation of the old number to the new provider. So whereas before there was only a pat code and if you wanted to disconnect, it would be the customer’s responsibility to go to their previous provider and arrange you disconnections. Now they can hand over that responsibility to the new provider by handing over a stack, whereas before they only had a pack.
DAVID DUNGAY [00:08:00] Sure. Okay. And this is 2 day 2 day timeframe. Is this a is this a reasonable amount of time for four partners to get their information about? Ben What do you think?
BEN SUGDEN [00:08:09] Again, if you come back to the point I made on an observation, as long as you’ve automated key areas such as billing, provisioning and support, then you should be able to access that information and provide it within the timescales specified. And that’s certainly where we concentrate our development efforts. I know from talking to Ricky and Chris before this that we’re pretty much all on the same page. So as long as you partner up with someone who can give you that degree of automation you’re fine.
DAVID DUNGAY [00:08:36] What’s the awareness like and within your own base, you know, we channel partners, you know, they can be heads down in their own sort of business. We know dealing with their own issues. But they always see these these rules or regulations of all types come into force until it’s too late. Are you seeing any of that?
CHRIS ROSE [00:08:54] I would say the majority are up to speed and have sort of embraced it in an organised themselves accordingly. And been a few that slip through the net as there always is. We’ve over 1000 partners. So yeah, that’s that’s bound to happen. Yeah. That’s bound to happen. But we’ve given them all the tools and we’ve done various webinars, conference calls with key partners and bits of that to keep everyone in the loop as to what they need to do, how we can assist them and just make their lives easier and more importantly, just make them compliant with the legislation.
DAVID DUNGAY [00:09:22] Sure, do you think we’re going to see a bit of movement in the partner market in terms of who provides the who as from the impact of these rules? Ricky what do you think.
RICKY SHOCK [00:09:32] I think if everyone’s doing what they should be doing, it shouldn’t have a serious impact. I think it potentially opens a risk for partners who can occasionally make things difficult for their end users, people enforcing long notice periods, people enforcing potentially high seas fees and things like that. They’re not going to be able to charge them and then are going to be able to enforce them when people are following this new process. So I think if you’re if you’re not willing to adjust your own policies to help your customer make it easier, then, you know, you could see yourself losing some business, I think, because, you know, customers are going to want to leave and now they’ve got the capability to do so without being subject to potentially huge bills.
DAVID DUNGAY [00:10:16] And I mean, clearly, this is this is all about the customer. This is designed to protect the customer. And it’s sir, it’s a great piece of legislation forward for that. A great rule for that. But, you know, if Ofcom obviously enforcing these rules, are they going to be taking a hard line or soft line on non-compliance at this point?
BEN SUGDEN [00:10:34] I think from from past experience that they’re going to they’re going to take a line, but it’s only going to be when when the offence warrants it because one or two slip ups early days they’ll be aware of, but not going to crack down on. I think It’s repeat offenders that are definitely going to be tightened up on.
DAVID DUNGAY [00:10:55] Sure. So what’s your take on that, Chris?
CHRIS ROSE [00:10:59] Yeah, I don’t want to speculate what Ofcom are going to do you, but they can fine people up to 10 percent of their turnover, which is a scary figure for everyone involved, huge. And whether or not they do force that is another matter. But yeah, I think Ben is right. It’s going to be the repeat offenders that are going to probably feel that the full brunt of that.
DAVID DUNGAY [00:11:19] Okay. And don’t forget, if you do have any questions about the auto switch rules or the text to switch, it’s also known as. Please write them in on on Twitter using the hashtag CB live nineteen. CB live nineteen. So we touched on it earlier, Ricky. You mentioned everyone round the table you’ve done a huge amount of your own development work for your own partners. Let’s talk a little bit about that. Chris do you want to kick us off. What have you done within your own business? Gamma done to really help us transition of partners.
CHRIS ROSE [00:11:52] So. So we are sort of the main link for the partner ready so when a customer requests their pat code, we’ll just use sms as an example, when they request that goes into a centralised system and then comes back to us, then we fought the notification it onto the partner. And currently we do that by email. But we do have API’s to support that as well. Web hooks so they can pull that off. And like I said we’re in a slightly unique position because we are purely just B2B. We have a handful of consumer ones, but their business house. So we’ve got the two day window. But what we do is that we enough via our portal. We have it set up so that the partner can respond via sms as well, so they can fill out some key fields in terms of what the pat code is is, how long it’s valid for, what the termination fees. All of those sorts of information. We’ve also created well added a page or section on our customer facing portal where they can go on and they can actually request the pat code or the stack or whatever it may be via that particular form there. And it’s the capability. The partners got to respond via that way as well. So you have to respond in the same way that someone contacts you. They request it and then back out with an sms So everything from the portal side, from the back end is all set up, ready, ready for action yet. There we go.
BEN SUGDEN [00:13:04] Ricky?
RICKY SHOCK [00:13:05] Yeah. We’ve got very similar alignments to Gamma to be honest. We have like I said earlier, the sms part of this process is the more complicated the newiest to everyone. And we understand that partners are going to have different capabilities in terms of what they can do and what their current set up is. So, for example, they may be able to accept API is either through their current bill provider or on their own systems. So we’ve made API is available whereby you can set up your own website with these API so that the functionality is there for your end users so that you can, you know, receive a notification, send your own onward sms. And essentially we we have that option of no touch in the same way that the networks receive a notification, pass it to us. We then receive a notification, raise the relevant information, pass that on to the partner, then theres partners who will be able to accept API but might not have the onward as a max capability. So they might not have a boxing match platform in place or an agreement wouldn’t be able to send a text message. So in those cases we’ve given the API to talk back to us. Give us the information we need to quote the relevant information on th sms and then we’ll send the sms on their behalf. And then theres additional layer in that for partners who aren’t in a position to accept API at all, don’t have their own functionality from sms. And in those cases they’ll be able to upload their data onto our systems and we’ll manage the whole sms process. I think the holders at this stage, I think a lot of people are using that system because it’s all fresh. I think as it grows, a lot more people will want to take on the ownership themselves. It’s you know, it’s like Chris just said that they’ll want to keep that information to themselves. they’ll want to forward their own text messages and manage it within their own timescales. So I think in the short term, it will be a more utilised functional. But in the long term, I expect that kind of drop off people implement the API section. And again, in terms of the the being able to have the functionality to do it online, we’re not in a position at this stage where we are releasing a white label website in the same way that Gumma has. But we have made all the API and functionality available to our customers to insert I frames into existing Website. So, you know, use those API to create the functionality on their own portals should they have them.
DAVID DUNGAY [00:15:18] Okay. And Abzorb. what were you doing over there?
BEN SUGDEN [00:15:21] I hate to repeat what he said. We pushed him with the three networks that we work with. We offer API is out to our partners. We have a white level customer facing portal as well in the same way. I think it’s easy to forget with the effort that we put into the mess that we do need to make the offering that our partners do need to have a Web site that people can go to to request a pac or a stack for the info request that they could be texting. We predominantly spent most of our development time on the asset side of things, but we have a partner portal that our partners can manage their own estate through. We have a widely available portal which allows that customer and it’s the end customer that we need to keep engaged. You know, if they if they’re happy with the service that our partners are offering. They won’t want to leave.
DAVID DUNGAY [00:16:13] So we’ve got a question from Twitter. My Ipad is not flipping around the right way, so I apologise for this. But John Keegan, thank you very much for watching. Is there a danger these rules will be abused by clients? What do we think?
RICKY SHOCK [00:16:29] I think that’s always going to be the case. I think ultimately we have to understand that this legislation is aimed and uses. The risk is certainly in in the bit in business channels when providing business to business, the end user doesn’t own the mobile. So the risk is that should an end user become aware of this process? They are functionality. They have access to the phone. They can send their own text messages. They can utilise these services. I think as long as providers like ourselves are putting in methods of communication with our partners to say such and such bodies request that this is an authorised request, you need to speak to your, you know, your own customer. Pick it up. It can be addressed. But the legislation does does leave room for risk.
CHRIS ROSE [00:17:11] How does that leave you? Sorry. I know you mentioned that you do have the majority of partners doing this 60 second where you get the request and it goes straight out. How are you going to address the authorisation point of view?
RICKY SHOCK [00:17:24] So at this moment in time, it’s a notification to the partner. So if they have at this stage, not many partners have utilised the CSP aspects of it where they upload the data to us. So we’re not actually managing the complete text message on behalf of our partners in full yet. For those that do do that, the text message will go to the customer as required, because again, some of our partners may have consumer on what customers we don’t know ultimately who they’re selling on to. So we provide the consumer level service in the event the text message does go out on their behalf, the partner receives a notification stay in. You know, this mobile numbers how to start switching them for request in the event. If there is an unauthorised request, please contact us to arrange cancellation. We’ve also submitted a Phase 2 improvement to that which we couldn’t get out in time for the release, but that will essentially give an automatic cancellation button on that notification so that the partner will receive request, received a notification saying your end user customers asked for this. They will then be able to go to that customer and say, is this a valid request from, you know, from one of your own users? And if not, they’ll press the ball. And it will it will, you know, cancel the pack or the stock in advance of it being utilised.
DAVID DUNGAY [00:18:34] Okay. Ben, what kind of risks do you foresee any any other additional risk from maybe abuse from a cloud perspective?
BEN SUGDEN [00:18:41] I don’t really see them. You’ve mentioned already. I don’t see that there’s not much risk for abuse. I think as long as we have validation in our level, then we can prevent that.
DAVID DUNGAY [00:18:53] Okay. So let’s let’s give our let’s give our viewers some practical advice. I mean, if your partner out there, hopefully you’ve heard of these rules, if you think something about it or you’re aligning himself with some some people, such as my lovely gentleman round table, what advice would you give to partners out there who are just coming to this now and they’re not quite sure how to handle it? Go about it. Chris, what do you think?
CHRIS ROSE [00:19:17] I would definitely say, come on, speak to us. Hold your hands now. All of us got just gamma, but we can hold your hand through the processing, get you up to speed as to what you do need to do so that you are compliant from that side. I kind of think that partners from their end might need to do a bit of tidying up here with the contract and dates and what they’ve actually got written into their contracts for end users. So just make that a little bit tidier and then the process is pretty simple off the back of that to be perfectly honest with you. Once you’ve got that information and you know where the tools are to provide that information back to the customer.
DAVID DUNGAY [00:19:52] Yeah, it’s pretty simple. Okay. Ben.
BEN SUGDEN [00:19:54] I think we’re in a digital age, so my advice would definitely be automate where you can. My I have talked to us talk talk to your provider. We all offer tools. We all of our API and something that Ricky mentioned. There are, you know, billing provider could well offer the ability to talk, to penalise your software provider will be able to look into these aeroplanes, automation.
DAVID DUNGAY [00:20:17] So automation like that. So we’ve got Twitter fired up. Nikki Pennycook, thank you very much for watching. Apologies for heads out. Do the panel think two days is so quick? There’s a risk of error or data loss. Question mark the legislation over ride. Sensible process, surely. What do we think about that? Ricky.
RICKY SHOCK [00:20:38] I think like Chris said earlier, this is going to be a requirement to ensure that you cleanse any day that you date is correct up to date. If if data isn’t up to date, you can potentially be caught in incorrect TTS because the automation and you know the legislation requires you to call all the information and declare when when customers asking for either a pack or a stock or just the information alone. So yeah, I mean, two days in an automated world, it’s more than realistic. I think if you’re not at that stage where you can utilise the API eyes and go down that route or potentially that your systems and contract dates and stuff is as precise as you might want them, then yeah, you may consider it a bit of a sharp fall, but I think in today’s automated world, two days is significant, you know, especially given the consumer world. You have to have it there immediately. So yeah, I couldn’t agree more.
CHRIS ROSE [00:21:39] Yeah. Think that’s reasonable. You know, I think it’s one of these moments, two working days as well. So it’s not two calendar days. So you get even more time of day than you get. Exactly.
DAVID DUNGAY [00:21:48] Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So Maxwell Jones, thank you very much. For what? Are there any particular benefits that you would highlight to the legislation coming in? So it’s all a little bit around this match, so let’s say let’s make it really super clear. What are the super benefits of this? Ben do you want to kicks off.
BEN SUGDEN [00:22:05] What I think the thing this does for all of us is it helps us provision quicker. You know, our in-house processes are going to be even more streamlined. Yeah.
RICKY SHOCK [00:22:16] I mean, the legislation has also put pressure on the networks as well to ensure a lack of a loss of service when transfer it. So I think people will find that the whole switching process becomes a lot less of a headache as well. I’m sure when keeping your numbers previously, when you know, when changing providers using a port and authorization code at some point, no doubt reseller will have experienced inconvenience outages, things falling down. And this legislation doesn’t only put pressure on us to provide a great service to the unused, it puts pressure on the networks sin averse to be able to provide the data and ensure the transfers go through correctly and quickly and efficiently.
DAVID DUNGAY [00:22:54] Sure. I mean, this this is pressure being put on the market. Is this you know, it might be a good thing, really keeps everyone putting their socks. What do you think?
CHRIS ROSE [00:23:02] I think for the mobile networks, the pressure’s really, really on those guys and they’ve got much bigger bases than us as MVNO do. So they’ve got a lot more to lose. We’ve got a lot more to gain is how I look at it.
DAVID DUNGAY [00:23:14] We think as channel providers, we think we’re in a good place to capitalise on that I think so. Yeah. Good, good. Okay. So we are nearing the end of the show. Thank you very much for watching. Just before we go, though, what do you want to leave our partners with today? What bit of information would you like to impart on all those millions of people watching? Ben, go.
BEN SUGDEN [00:23:35] One thing I’ve always wanted to share with fellow telecoms, businesses and our partners. Don’t be frightened of technology. It’s there to help us. It’s there to help us grow as businesses. And there are tools out that there are skills out there that you can engage that will help you. add that degree of automation and I keep repeating that will help you streamline your business. And if our partners grow, we grow.
DAVID DUNGAY [00:23:58] It’s all about automation, like it. Ricky what do you think?
RICKY SHOCK [00:23:58] It’s all about engagement for me I think it’s very important that you engage with your account manager as you specialise. You provide this thing, you take all you want, a wider look. So if you are part of a reseller in a position whereby you have a number of suppliers, get an idea of what they’re all doing and come up with the right solution for you, that may include as well searching for additional legal and complaint advice as well outside of your providers. Just think it’s important you engage and implement what’s right for you.
DAVID DUNGAY [00:24:28] That’s an interesting, interesting one. Make sure you engage with third party people.
RICKY SHOCK [00:24:32] I mean, yeah. Yeah. I mean, ultimately, legislations are grey. They’re never black and white and they’re always open to interpretation by and we’ve all got our own complaint departments. So something that the compliance department says a Gamma might not be the same as what somebody says, digital wholesale solutions. So I think it’s important that you take a view on what everyone is telling you and then work what’s right for you while seeking additional guidance, because ultimately it is your business on the line that your business is going to be held accountable by Ofcom.
CHRIS ROSE [00:25:02] That’s what I think for me, actually very similar to Ben sort of embrace technology, you know, sort of carry on going down the route of the unified comms type solution, UCAS and all those lovely phrases. But yeah, go down there and just really embrace everything that, you know, we can all do and just get the most out of the technology. And it benefits our partners, but also definitely benefits their end users as well.
DAVID DUNGAY [00:25:24] Brilliant. Well, yeah, it’s a nice place to end the episode on. Thank you very much for joining me. Thank you. It’s been a pleasure meeting. Thank you very much for tuning in. My name’s David Dungay editor of Comms Business magazine. We’ll be back next Monday at 3:30, talking about hosted telephony and so many opportunities for the channel around that space. Thank you. I’ll see you then.