A new international mobile operator called Tru, which provides domestic call charges for calls made overseas, started operating on Australian shores today.
The operator, which is piggybacking on the Optus network as part of a wholesale agreement, is able to keep roaming costs down via a patented SIM card, which can be assigned multiple numbers. It gives customers a local number for each of the countries the company has launched in: US, UK and Australia.
"Contacts in the UK can always reach you on your UK number, and contacts in the US can reach you on your US number, wherever you are — without them ever paying the cost of an international call," said Tru chief executive Geraldine Wilson in a media statement released today.
For 220 other countries that aren't part of this small network, the SIM card can still be used, but roaming rates are applied. The service will soon also be rolled out to Hong Kong, Netherlands and Spain in the coming months, with plans to be in 20 countries by 2011.
"The big difference is that we are building a global mobile network, we will be the first global network operating in the UK, USA and Australia. What it means is that we essentially have control over both ends of the transmission," Tru managing director Ben Pullen added, explaining that this meant that they are able to offer lower-cost services to customers.
Customers are able to purchase data, voice and text bundles that can be used across the countries in which it's launched. The company has said that its prices will provide over 80 per cent savings on current telco operator roaming rates. In a further 30 European countries, savings of 30 and 60 per cent can be achieved, according to Tru.
The company is also offering business customers a dedicated, in-house call centre in Brisbane, according to Pullen.
"Part of our focus is that we know people are based around the world which is the nature of our market, we need to be able to provide a high level of 24-hour service to those customers," Pullen said.
According to Pullen, the increasing uptake of smartphones, tablet devices and other portable technologies that connect to the internet has seen the increase in demand for international data services. This change in user habits, he adds, has been pushed along by the availability of wireless internet and communications infrastructure like the National Broadband Network.