In our business, it’s unusual when we see the launch of something from virtually every corner of the globe. However, given the fact that the Voiamo is launching its Globalgig service designed as a roaming replacement for International data plans, the fact that it is doing so simultaneously in London, Sydney and New York is not a surprise.
What is a surprise is their ability to bring carrier grade mobile internet access for less than a U.S. penny for a MB of data.
What’s this all about you ask? Good question.
A personal Hotspot
The problem for frequent international travelers (and CFOs looking to contain costs) presents the opportunity Voiamo is addressing. It is encapsulated in new research from Juniper Research, who is predicting a 21-percent per year increase in mobile data roaming revenue between 2012 and 2017 as more and more people use data services abroad. Projections are that total mobile roaming revenue will exceed $80 billion by 2017, with mobile data accounting for $35 billion.
In comparison, total worldwide roaming revenue is expected to reach $46 billion this year. In short, this is a big market with big risks and rewards to all involved.
Note: The report also points out that the number of people who actively avoid using data when abroad remains significantly higher than those ‘silent roamers’ who avoid voice services when abroad.
What Voiamo is offering frequent travelers is a small personal mobile hotspot (see picture below) that will allow them to obtain inexpensive mobile broadband access in a growing number of locations around the world, and thereby avoid the excessive costs and hassle of international data roaming.
They will be able to do so in a manner that is both easy to use and more secure than accessing public Wi-Fi hotspots.
By automatically logging onto the local mobile network in each market through users’ smartphones, tablets and laptops, Globalgig customers can access fast, secure internet speeds of up to 7.2 MB (megabytes) per second at a fraction of normal roaming costs. Up to five devices can be connected simultaneously at high speed to any single Globalgig Hotspot by simply switching it on and accessing the internet.
Globalgig charges significantly less than mainstream mobile phone companies for its international data packages and its service is also priced competitively for usage in the U.S. domestic market.
The company offers useful monthly bundles of:
- 1 GB (gigabyte) for $25.00
- 3 GB for $39.00
- 5 GB for $49.00 (the equivalent of 5,120 MB, which translates to as little as 0.95¢ (nearly a penny) per MB
By comparison, international roaming can cost up to $20 per megabyte with international data packages ranging from 15 to 25 cents per MB.
Globalgig bills customers on a monthly basis and there are no long-term contracts required. The Globalgig Hotspot device can be bought at the Globalgig store online for $119.00 at www.globalgig.com.
“It’s time to bring an end to the rip-off data bills that business people face upon their return from travelling abroad,” said Nigel Bramwell, CEO at Voiamo. He added that the Globalgig Hotspot device will allow users to: “Get the most out of their mobile online experience, reliably and securely at a breakthrough price that will make international data roaming charges obsolete.”
Bramwell added, “Sometimes conscientious travelers try to avoid roaming charges by purchasing local SIM cards when they reach their destination, in order to access data on their phones…Other travelers have to deal with the cumbersome, lengthy process of purchasing expensive pricing plans with their carriers, which forces them to mentally ration their mobile data use.”
Globalgig enables the traveler to remain in full contact via their connected devices while keeping their SIM card in place. It also does not require the traveler to unlock their phone.
After initially launching in the U.S., U.K. and Australia, Voiamo plans to expand the Globalgig product to key Asian, European Union markets, and other large global travel hubs, over the next 12 months. There are also plans to launch a voice service in late 2013, offering cheap call bundles abroad with the ability to maintain live existing and local numbers.
Obviously, being able to have agreements with mobile network operators to allow Globalgig users to access their networks locally is a critical piece of the puzzle. To that end, Voiamo has partnered with the following mobile operators:
- Three ispart of the Hutchison Whampoa group, which is the U.K.'s fastest growing mobile network according to Ofcom's annual Communications Market Report.
- Sprint is providing Voiamo subscribers access to its wireless network and to its wireless services, but Voiamo is responsible to the Voiamo subscribers for the service.
- Optus is theVoiamo partner in Australia and one of Asia's largest mobile operators.
As might be expected to achieve true global reach, Voiamo is reported to be in advanced discussions with a number of other global mobile network including Tier 2 mobile operators whose lack of global presence means they cannot capture roaming mobiles. A fully supported voice component is due to come online in 2013.
On the technology side of things, Voiamo haspartnered with:
- Morpho (formerly Sagem Orga) — for SIM card functionality and supply
- Eppixcomm — to supply a carrier-grade system for delivering all required customer care and billing services
For those of us with sophisticated smartphones, we are already aware of the option to turn them into personal Wi-Fi hotspots in-country for an additional monthly charge. But because the charges can be significant —and in the U.S. at least public Wi-Fi is becoming readily available in congested places and will be more so as Hotspot 2.0 and Wi-Fi roaming are implemented — the need to turn our phones into Wi-Fi hotspots may not seem that pressing.
That said, for anyone who has looked at their data roaming charges after returning from a trip overseas the Voiamo solution is something worth looking into if you are a customer of one of their network partners. Your CFO will be thrilled.
Edited by Braden Becker