The item that caught my eye at Mobile World Congress was Truphone‘s announcement of Truphone Local Anywhere. As a long time fan of Truphone I’m always interested to see what they’re planning next and this looked like the announcement that nailed the question about where their strategy is taking them. In one respect announcing a product that won’t be available to users for about six months might seem a little premature but Truphone’s intention was to stimulate interest from potential partner operators around the world; and talking to the Truphone guys it seems to have done that very successfully.
So what is Truphone Local Anywhere and why has it got the potential to be a game changer? Truphone Local Anywhere will be a global virtual operator (MVNO) with its own HLR & IN (for the geeks) infrastructure, operating worldwide. Users can have local mobile numbers in all the countries they spend time in and make calls at local rates Ã¢â‚¬â€œ not roaming rates. So for the first time one SIM allows you to use your phone worldwide, without being stiiffed for roaming, without having to stick another SIM in your phone and without expecting people to call you on international numbers. Truphone Local Anywhere also addresses a shortcoming of some travel SIMs by including data as well as voice and SMS.
I asked Geraldine Wilson, Truphone CEO, about pricing and whilst no firm details have been announced yet, the intention is to price well below existing roaming rates and slightly above existing in-country tariffs. This is probably a good place to pitch it because Truphone needs local operator coÃ¢â‚¬â€˜operation to get the coverage footprint but needs to keep prices sufficiently competitive so travellers don’t bother switching SIMs. An intriguing feature I’m looking forward to seeing is the ability to change CLI depending where I am. I’m hoping this will allow the CLI to be changed depending who I’m calling. So if I call someone in the UK I’ll want them to see a +44 UK CLI but if they’re in the USA then they should see a +1 US CLI. Not sure if that’s the plan but Truphone, if you’re listening, that’s what I’m looking for!
Truphone’s MWC presentation covered a number of scenarios where a single SIM would make life easier Ã¢â‚¬â€œ airline pilot, family international business traveller, homes in more than one country, expatriates with family in the home country, people in the armed forces. The one that caught my eye is the airline pilot; my brother-in-law is a captain with one of Europe’s biggest airlines and therefore spends time in a vast array of countries. A Truphone Local Anywhere SIM would be perfect for him Ã¢â‚¬â€œ definitely an early customer!
The Truphone Local Anywhere announcement didn’t go into detail around service value-adds but I’d really like to see a tie-up with SpinVox to convert voice messages into text and deliver as SMS. This would be a significant enhancement to the current Ã¢â‚¬Ëœtraditional’ voicemail setup and crucially, make it easier for international travellers to pick up their voice messages. Number porting is also going to be key. Potential customers will need to be able to port in their existing mobile numbers to make the transition to Truphone as simple as possible.
Jonathan’s also at Sevendotzero.