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January 2017

Tier 1 International Access Solved: Sidestepping the Low QoS & High Cost Risks of Wholesale Connections

Tier 1 International Access Solved: Sidestepping the Low QoS & High Cost Risks of Wholesale Connections

Say you’re a small-tier retail operator, how do you become a player on the international scene?

Well, it’s a real challenge.  Let me walk you through a typical scenario:

    Your first task is to find a suitable international carrier.  And who should that partner be?  Ideally it will be a tier 1 operator in your destination country.  A Tier 1 is your logical first choice because they own high-volume global routes and their connections are high quality and relatively fraud-free.

    But as you soon discover, Tier 1 operators don’t have the time of day to work with small, unknown operators.  Tier 1s are only willing to work with a few hundred direct partners, companies they trust and who they enjoy a long relationship with.

    So if the Tier 1 channel is closed to you, what’s your next option?

    Well, your only other option is to do your own research and make deals to tack up a path across multiple Tier 2 or 3 carriers — most of whom are happy to carry your traffic for a fee.

    So you contact these carriers, maybe meet them at ITW, negotiate a deal, and start doing business.  And, of course, this entails investing in billing and traffic analytics systems to manage your relationships and monitor your traffic to ensure it grows and your profit margins remain in the black.

    Trouble is, after this tremendous effort of dealing with multiple carriers and buying systems, you’re never quite sure about the QoS that reaches your called party in a distant country.  And when you add up the cost of each carrier leg in your interconnect chain, the total delivery cost is far more expensive than you originally planned.

OK, what I’ve just described is the real-world experience of thousands of small- to mid-tier operators around the world, and given the constraints, it seems this ugly scenario is the best option available.

Or is it?  Well, consider the idea behind a new wholesale service called BridgeVoice.com, a service that allows smaller operators to secure indirect Tier 1 access and minimize the hassles, high cost, and risks of tacking up international routes on their own.

If your company is in this sort of jamb, have a listen to my interview with Manoj Jain, Vice President & Global Head of Marketing of BridgeVoice who explains the details of his company’s innovative service.

Dan Baker, Editor, Telexchange Journal: Manoj, please tell us about the origins of BridgeVoice and why you decided to offer this service to Tier 2 and 3 operators.

Manoj Jain: Dan, Bridgevoice is a new service of Broadband Telecom, a company who’s been in the wholesale business for 16 years.  So we understand the pain that operators, carriers and virtual operators feel: we’ve lived it.

Today we operate with about 350 employees in India and 100+ global employees: we do $325 million in annual business handling 16 billion minutes of voice traffic.

BridgeVoice.com is basically a real-time on-line platform that invites carriers and operators to come in to buy, sell and bid their traffic capacity and volumes to other players around the world.

Sounds a lot like what Arbinet does?

Well, Arbinet is quite different actually.  Let me explain.  Arbinet is a neutral exchange who charges fees on both sides.  Their business model is an information portal one, similar to a traditional on-line store like eBay or Amazon.  These companies facilitate retail transaction; they don’t get directly involved.

BridgeVoice, on the other hand, is a wholesaler who connects with major Tier 1 operators.  So we are are not just another wholesale information portal.  What separates us is the relationships of trust we enjoy with many global Tier 1 carriers.  They trust BridgeVoice’s business, platform, and technology to the point where we have become one of their premium trading partners.

And those relationships are the key value BridgeVoice brings.  Because no matter how hard they try, small tier 2 and 3 providers can almost never gain direct access to big tier 1 operators — it’s very rare.  But leveraging our relationship with Tier 1s enables us to broaden a small tier operator’s ability to connect.

Think about the situation from a Tier 1 provider’s view.  They have hundreds of partners already, so to take on a new small partner, they face the problems of: small transaction volumes; getting paid; and training the partner on hundreds of practices their long-term partners already know.

So this is why we are in an ideal position to leverage this relationship of trust on behalf of Tier 2 and 3 operators.  And because we have skin in the game, we are motivated to ensure all parties gain a win/win.

Can you give us an example of how a wholesale relationship is developed on your platform?

Sure.  Take the example of a small VoIP player.  Maybe they want to launch a Call-Home-to-India service for their base of 2,000 retail or enterprise customers

So what happens?  They have zero direct connectivity to India.  So they approach their local carrier, who approaches their international carrier, and who then contacts another operator to terminate in India.  Now because everybody needs to make a margin in the chain, the price becomes either cost prohibitive or the end-to-end quality declines to reach a lower price point.

But by connecting through BridgeVoice, this very small operator can establish high quality direct connections into the leading Tier 1 carriers of the world — thus skirting around multiple layers of middlemen who add costs, lower quality connections, and partnering headaches.

By inviting everybody onto the platform, small- or mid-sized operators can also do business with the big tier carriers using our platform.  One big difference is we prepay the operators, the surest way to get the relationship off on a solid footing.

By the way, it isn’t just voice service: SMS routing and delivery can also be bid on and purchased on the platform.

We have also launched Unified Communications (UC) in multiple countries by partnering with other local operators.  We will offer UC as a Service (UCaaS) with no capex investment required: our customers will be able to obtain this through our own network and in-house developed technology.

Another other challenge, of course, is providing good customer support.

It’s true.  A small retail operator has a small staff and earns say $1,000 or $500 per week — a tiny volume of traffic.  But despite their small size, to survive and grow they need to operate a quality service.  That service needs to be prompt and responsive to customers.  And to accomplish these goals requires automation and an ability to offload tasks to specialists.

This is why we offer a dedicated Help Desk for our retail operator’s customers.  Our theory is that everything can be handled on-line.  The customer can go into a portal and do online chats.

Sounds like a great service.  What’s planned for the future?

Dan, we’re spending a lot of energy smoothing the financial side of the business — making it easier for operators on different sides of the world to do business.

The key is integrating our portal with banks to create a fuller ecosystem.  Our plan is to provide direct settlement — through the banks — between two operators.  Initially, we will fund the customers and vendors and bring banks in to be our partners.

Imagine you have a small operator sitting in Bahrain and another operator in India and they both want to do business.  On the Indian side you have a large carrier with a good credit line.  But they know nothing about the party in Bahrain.

However a common bank that operates in both countries can make this work.  An escrow account or other financial tool is used to fund both sides of the deal.  And credit lines can travel across the globe when a common bank is involved.

Thanks for giving us a rundown on this innovative way for Tier 2 and 3 operators to get connected to high quality routes.

Happy to, Dan.  Basically, the whole idea is to ensure two things: quality and price.  The secret to getting retail traffic is QoS.  If you don’t provide the quality, consumers will go away.

And so BridgeVoice provides those quality direct links to big carriers so smaller operators can sidestep middle mile operators whose quality is almost guaranteed to be poor, otherwise they would be too expensive.

We are inviting all the operators and carriers to enroll on the BridgeVoice automated carrier platform.  They can bid on our platform and sign deals right there.

Copyright 2017 Telexchange Journal

 

About the Expert

Manoj Jain

Manoj Jain

Manoj Jain currently works as Chief Operating Officer with Bankai Group and is the VP & Global Head of Marketing for BridgeVoice.

Throughout his journey of 15+ years, he has held multiple roles in management, strategy & planning, and marketing.

Starting his career as an engineer, he successfully blended into his role as a Senior Manager, Vice President, and COO  while gaining telecom business management expertise across domestic and international markets.

Manoj is an expert in BSS/OSS products, Big Data-powered Analytics, network solutions, and value-added services, with several accolades under his belt including Special Contribution Award at BSS Summit and Ambassador Award at Ericsson.

Manoj’s career graph continues to rise.  He has worked with some of the best names in the industry including Ericsson, Bharti, Idea, Airtel and now Bankai.   Contact Manoj via

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