International virtual operator Truphone is bringing its globetrotting mobile voice and data services to 58 new countries ranging from Austria to China. That expansion builds on its initial core service zone of eight countries to include all of Europe, the major countries in North America and a handful of places in Asia and South America.
Customers traveling across that 66-country footprint would basically tap into a single bucket of voice minutes, SMS, and data. While Truphone does sell its service to individual consumers, its customers are increasingly businesses that buy “family” plans shared among all employees. It now offers shared data plans with up to half a terabyte of data a month.
The 58 new countries will be treated slightly differently from Truphone’s core zone, which encompasses the U.S., U.K., Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Poland, Australia and Hong Kong. In those eight countries, Truphone acts as a true mobile virtual network operator, buying capacity directly from mobile carrier partners and offering local phone numbers to its customers. And customers who go over their caps would just pay the local rates of the particular country.
In its expanded footprint, however, Truphone has struck more traditional roaming deals with local carriers. As long as customers stay under the minute, message and data caps they won’t be charged any additional fees, but if they go over them they’re subject to international roaming rates. And since customers traveling in the extended footprint won’t have local phone numbers, people calling their phones will pay international rates.
Truphone has been around since 2006, starting as an over-the-top communications app selling cheap VoIP minutes to international travelers. But since it switched its business model to become an international carrier, it’s started getting a lot more attention. Last year investors like Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich invested £70 million (U.S $110 million) in the company, valuing it at over £300 million.