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Truphone debuts 66-country flat rate roaming deal

Still worth paying outrageous hotel rate for wireless if you're a data-gobbler

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Data plans of up to half a terabyte are on offer from Truphone, the mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) which targets businesses with lots of globe-trotting execs.

Voice and data prices on the new Truphone tariffs are the same regardless of which of 66 countries you are in. They call this “Truphone World” and builds on the “Truphone Zone” of eight countries based on the agreements it has with eight major mobile network operators (MNOs).

Getting one mobile phone operator to play ball and provide an MVNO with a service they might perceive undercuts the core service is tough. Getting eight to do so is pretty miraculous.

Truphone argues that so many business people switch off data while roaming, it has been able to convince the operators that having a share of some roamed data revenue is better than having none at all. Perhaps that’s why all but Vodafone have sworn Truphone to secrecy as to who they are.

Of course the EU is moving towards removing roaming charges altogether, but that only covers 28 countries and comes into effect in December 2015.

Truphone uses multi-IMSI SIMs and can offer up to eight local numbers so that customers can be given a local rate number while the sales bod is globe-trotting. Truphone argues that this is much more manageable than juggling multiple phones.

The company also claims that because calls are kept on the local network rather than sometimes routed through the home network and back – a system known as "tromboning" - the latency, speed and call quality on a Truphone SIM is much better than with a single network’s SIM when roaming.

Truphone targets big companies such as banks – five of the world’s eight largest banks are customers, and can offer CFA compliant call recording, the customers include start-ups and FTSE 100 companies, as well as major brands such as Harley Davidson, and they are a technology partner for Caterham F1.

At first blush, the actual tariffs don’t look that special – at around 12p a minute and bundles such as 10 users sharing 10,000 minutes and 10,000 text messages, with 12GB of data costing just shy of £1,000. But when you factor in roaming and things like incoming calls being free, it starts to look much more sensible. Truphone cites examples where a £60-a-month user would see bills of many hundreds of pounds if they were on a UK network and roamed.

There is wiggle room on the pricing for big corporates and it’s a much more consultative sale than dealing with one of the big networks, the firm says.

Ultimately, local Wi-Fi is always going to be cheaper than cellular, even if you are not paying for roaming, so if an exec does want to start torrenting while abroad, it’s still going to be worth paying the hotel’s outrageous day rate for wireless. ®

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