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One of the most important calls I make during the week is the one to my mother, followed by another one to my baby brother. These are international long distance calls, and for the first 15 years of my American life, those calls went over AT&T’s wired or wireless networks, forging a very special bond with Ma Bell.
This past year, however, that bond has been broken. AT&T has been replaced by Truphone, a UK-based mobile VoIP company that offers better quality voice calls at lower rates and doesn’t require me to own a landline. A WiFi-enabled Nokia phone is all it takes. (These days, I am totally in love with my Nokia E61.)
Truphone has become indispensable to my work and personal life, and perhaps that is why I’m glad to learn it just raised a whopping $32.7 million in Series B funding from “new investors,” although the company wouldn’t name names. Previous investors who have pumped in over $24.5 million in Series A funding — Burda Digital Ventures, Eden Ventures, Independent News & Media and Wellington Partners — came back with more cash as well.
Truphone recently acquired Sim4Travel, a company that made cheap cellular roaming possible. Alec Saunders points out that, with that particular acquisition, Truphone can extend its footprint beyond expensive Nokia WiFi-enabled phones. This has been Truphone’s Achilles heel and had limited the company’s growth prospects.
This is the crucial point. Even though Truphone has made great progress, the mobile VoIP game is still about cheap minutes and low-cost SMS. And that business is all about volume. I just hope Truphone can build that volume — this is one service I really want around forever; if it’s not, I will get an earful from mom.