Multi-country "local anywhere" mobile operator Tru is launching a £20-a-month iPad bundle that currently provides local rate broadband in the UK, US and Australia. A similar package will be available in the US "shortly", according to the company, which also intends to add Spain, Hong Kong and the Netherlands to its roster of countries in Q3 of this year, with a further 20 in 2012.
The iPad bundle includes a 1GB-a-month allowance, on a 12-month contract. Out of bundle pricing is 10p/MB in the UK and US, and 8p/MB in Australia. Roaming in rates in non-Tru countries can also be cheaper than those charged by established UK mobile operators. Roaming in Europe, for example, £1.25/MB, while Canada is £2.50/MB and rest of world £5/MB. The Register's corporate O2 account, on the other hand, whacks us for £2.55/MB in Europe and £6/MB outside Europe.
The out-of-bundle data rates for the iPad product are the same as for Tru's handset products, but as the iPad version obviously doesn't include voice the pricing is a tad different. A Basic Tru voice and data SIM costs £10 a month with no contract, while pricing on business products can be seen here. The Tru SIM can have local numbers for other Tru countries bolted onto it for £5 a month, while business customers get two numbers as part of the package. Local call rates are available in Tru countries whether or not you have a local number, however.
You could say Tru is a pretty well-kept secret, as our very own Bill Ray remarked last year, "perhaps the clever stuff will follow once Truphone has expanded its retail channel beyond British Airways customers* and its own website." Well it still hasn't expanded its retail channel, but a spokesman for the company claimed that customers are increasingly coming to the company "from a CIO or CFO perspective", driven by the crippling cost of international roaming rates. They still need to know about the possible escape routes before they can take them, of course ... ®
* Disclosure: the writer hadn't heard of Tru either until one more G&T than was good for him drove him to read the BA in-flight catalogue, and he thought £15 for a multi-country SIM experiment was worth a punt. So far it seems to have been, and it's worth noting that Tru doesn't object to tethering, so there's no problem setting up your own Wi-Fi hotspot when you're travelling.
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