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Truphone Takes on the World

Sarah Thomas
5/21/2014
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Global mobile network operator Truphone is expanding its enterprise offering in a big way, adding 66 countries to its roster of eight in which users can pay local rates and share up to half a terabyte of data with their co-workers.

The international roaming provider supports what it calls the Truphone Ltd. Zone, eight key countries where it has wireless coverage agreements with local carriers. Those countries are Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, Poland, Spain, the Netherlands, the UK, and the US. (See Truphone Strikes MVNO Deal With Vodafone and Truphone Signs Up Optus.)

As part of its Truphone World expansion, announced on Wednesday, that list grows to include 66 countries with local rate structures, which it claims accounts for 70% of all international travel routes in North America, South America, Asia, and Oceania.

Pascal de Hesselle, Truphone's vice president of marketing, says the company isn't yet ready to offer local phone numbers in all of these markets as it does in the Zone, but today's announcement makes Truphone the first company to offer predictable pricing plans that cover five continents. (See The Price Isn't Right With EU Roaming Rules.)

"For a price comparable to what you pay to a US carrier for service in just the US, you can use voice, minutes, and data in any of these 66 countries as a part of your plan," de Hesselle says. "You'll have predictable costs as a result."

Truphone fills an interesting niche in the market. It doesn't have a specific home base in which to target customers, and it offers more than just a local SIM for those that travel abroad. Rather, it's designed for the enterprise user that travels frequently or at least does business with those outside of his or her home country.

Truphone's patented SIM includes multiple numbers on the same card, enabling its customers to place "local" calls wherever they may be. And, its new plans include up to half a terabyte of data, providing ample browsing time for those on shared enterprise data plans.

De Hesselle says that most of its customers use Truphone as their primary or only service, and they typically tend to have two phone numbers. Although they can, like him, have up to eight via the reprogrammable SIM.

Truphone was a Leading Lights finalist last year, as well as one of the best-funded startups of 2013, having received a $118 million cash infusion from Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. (See 2013 Leading Lights Finalists: Most Innovative Enterprise Service and The Best-Funded Mobile Startups of 2013.)

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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sarahthomas1011
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sarahthomas1011,
User Rank: Light Beer
5/27/2014 | 1:22:47 PM
Re: Why the big Telcos are not doing it?
Why would they want to? They make big bucks from international roaming, and that would require agreements with many other operators in different countries. Truphone is unique in that it's a virtual operator that runs on top of existing networks and can more easily form deals with carriers in its Zone. it's a unique business model, but not one I see large telcos that rely on a single SIM offering.
nasimson
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nasimson,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/27/2014 | 12:20:15 PM
Why the big Telcos are not doing it?
This is very interesting for many reasons.

I am surprised why the BIG telecoms that are there in many countries are not doing it already! BIG Telecoms like Vodafone, Telenor, T-Mobile that are operating in many countries can very easily do this in multiple countries at once.

 
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/21/2014 | 12:46:15 PM
Re: Ready To Roll With Patent In Hand
@Sarah that's a good way to really put it to the test. I hope you'll report on your experience with Truphone's servie. 
sarahthomas1011
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sarahthomas1011,
User Rank: Light Beer
5/21/2014 | 11:09:29 AM
Re: Ready To Roll With Patent In Hand
Yes, those are the points from the article...

A half terabyte of data is pretty generous. I think it could actually work for a fairly large business. I am going to try the service in Nice. As someone using it for a one-off trip, it's a little less convenient because I have to give out two new phone numbers and miss calls to my old one, but I think that's better than the expense I would incur to keep my existing number and pay roaming fees.
kq4ym
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kq4ym,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/21/2014 | 9:17:36 AM
Ready To Roll With Patent In Hand
Truphone may just have hit on a great idea. With the patented SIM with the multiple numbers on the card enabling local calls whereever the phone is, and the large data plan they should garner lots of interest and hopefully profits.

And being the best funded startup in 2013 with the $100 million in cash from the Russion billionaire won't hurt their chances either.
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