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Truphone - the end of mobile roaming charges?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Mobile communications company Truphone aims to make calls and data roaming charges a thing of the past.

UK mobile communications company Truphone has set up a service to enable you to make calls and send and receive data at local rates in 66 countries, including all of Europe, Australia, Hong Kong, the US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, China and Russia among others.

Many energy companies have already signed up as customers, according to Sam Murray, business development manager at Truphone, speaking at the Digital Energy Journal Aberdeen forum on June 4, 'Improving IT Security and Infrastructure'.

To make the service work, Truphone has installed its own infrastructure in data centres in the Los Angeles, New York, London, Amsterdam, Hong Kong and Sydney, creating regional hubs to carry international voice and data traffic.

Due to agreements between countries (for example within the EU) it can also offer local rate calls for countries where it does not have its own equipment.

This list includes all of Europe (including Ukraine and Iceland), Argentina, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, China, French Guiana, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, Turkey.

As part of your Truphone account, you can choose to have a local phone number in any of the countries where Truphone has its own equipment (although you pay the same price whether you have a local phone number or not).

The aim is basically to try to build a global cellular phone network, not constrained by country borders - something which has never been done before. The current cellular network is basically lots of smaller networks stitched together, Mr Murray says.

Roaming charges continue to be a big headache in many countries, with telecom companies seeing business travellers as an easy source of good money. 'You get ripped off,' Mr Murray said.

Meanwhile, people's need to send data is rising exponentially, and people want to use the same applications on their mobile devices as they do in the office, regardless of their location.

Some company CIOs turn a blind eye to the expenditure employees incur whilst roaming because they know that reducing spending would be an enormous headache, Mr Murrays says.

Other CIOs make company rules on what you can do, such as restricting spending or banning roaming data use. "So you are worrying about that instead of getting on with your business," Mr Murray said.

Travelling executives sometimes switch their phones off or avoid sending data, due to concerns about calling costs, which can lead to business problems.

If people can't use their normal company devices on roaming, they will often use alternative methods, such as exchanging company files on wifi using 'DropBox' or going to an internet cafe, which can lead to further security problems.

By using Truphone you can also avoid the technical problems sometimes associated with roaming calls, due to the data which needs to be sent back to the home country.

For example, if two Truphone subscribers from the UK travel to the US and call each other, the call stays in the US, providing superior call quality.

The offering
Your Truphone package includes a 'bundle' of call minutes, texts and data usage from which you can make and receive calls from, to and between all of the 66 countries which make up the 'Truphone World'.

Truphone subscribers are given a SIM card with a UK number, and one choice of foreign number (out of Australia, Hong Kong, Poland, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, United States), and they can additionally buy further phone numbers in the list of 8 countries above for £5 a month.

So if (for example) you travel to the US, you make a phone call, you automatically pay US local rates for the phone call, and your US number comes up on the recipients' phone as your number. This should make them more likely to call you back, if someone in the US is more comfortable calling a US number, Mr Murray said.

If two Truphone users in the US phone each other, even though their phones are registered in the UK, they will pay normal US mobile phone rates.

Truphone subscribers pay for a bundle of minutes and data, the same way as you do with your personal phone, and you can use this anywhere in the world.

Truphone has installed its own switches in 6 countries around the world, which route its subscriber's traffic.

So once you have made a call in (for example) the UK, your call is routed to Truphone's UK switch, which sends the call to the switch closest to your recipient. So all the expensive international section of the phone call is handled by Truphone.

As well as reducing the price, this system can help improve quality and security of the call.

The company has a support service geared for business use, where you can speak directly to engineers if you have any problem, regardless of your location or the time of day.

Associated Companies
» Truphone
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