Truphone to launch MVNO at Mobile World Congress
Virtual operator would integrate VoIP calling platforms, message aggregation and roaming services into a single Truphone service
Mobile VoIP provider Truphone is planning to launch a mobile virtual network operator that combines all of the various international long-distance calling, roaming and messaging platforms it has developed in the last three years into an integrated service that automatically selects the cheapest alternative anytime a call is placed.
Truphone is revealing few specifics about the MVNO, such as its potential network operator partners or launch countries, but Truphone Americas President Tom Carter confirmed that a launch is definitely in the works with the first details being released in February at the GSM Association’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. “We will be making some public statements in Barcelona, so I want to be careful what I reveal,” Carter said. “It will all come together and be clear then.”
Truphone has built a VoIP calling network, which its customers access via WiFi or alternate access connection, allowing them to avoid the exorbitant fees carriers charge for international dialing. Truphone started out on the Symbian platform supporting the Nokia S60 devices with WiFi radios, but it since expanded to the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch as well as Research In Motion’s BlackBerry. With each new implementation, though, Truphone adds new functionality. Last Week at MacWorld, Truphone released a new Mac OS client that allows users to make and receive Skype calls and instant messages as well as integrate with Google Talk, MSM Messenger and Yahoo Messenger accounts, making Truphone more than just a low-cost international voice provider but rather an aggregator of IP communications services.
Last May, the company launched Truphone Anywhere, which allows customers to make VoIP calls without access to WiFi by initiating a domestic call over the carrier’s network which is then routed into Truphone’s SIP gateway. When Truphone launch its beta application for the BlackBerry it integrated its client directly contacts application, which automatically detects when a user is making an international call and gives the user a choice whether to connect the call directly via the carrier or make a VoIP call.
Truphone was first to link to the MVNO business model when it bought SIM4Travel, a mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) that has low-cost roaming rate agreements with operators around the world. When coupled with its Truphone client, the acquisition completes the Truphone international calling puzzle, allowing customers to not only make cheap calls to other countries but to make cheap calls from international destinations by tapping into local calling rates. The acquisition firmly established Truphone in the operator space, and Truphone has openly discussed the possibility of moving beyond SIM cards to offer its own devices. But Truphone’s operator ambitions are greater than being a mere cheap roam-rate operator. Carter said that its MVNO would be designed to realize its goal of becoming an all-in-one communications hub. The MVNO would bring all of the company’s various services and platforms into a single service, all highly integrated with the device in a single client, Carter said.
“We’ll be able to provide a variety of access alternatives for our customers, but we’ll be able to optimize [each call] for the lowest cost service,” he said. “Customers won’t even have to think about it.”
Creating an MVNO would allow Truphone to embed its platform much further into the device and expand the range of devices available beyond smartphones as well as take the complexity out of signing up for or using the service. It’s easy to imagine a service in which a customer signs up for a single bucket of minutes that can be used to dial both domestically and internationally as well as while roaming. For each call, the client software could then automatically select the cheapest and most efficient calling method from its array of platforms.
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