Forget attempts by the UK Government to persuade the country’s major mobile operators to provide full network roaming, because a telecoms company from the North has sidestepped everyone and is launching a roaming service of its own.
24 Seven, a Leeds-based company, has created the country’s first SIM card that allows people to jump between networks. The cards will search out the strongest signal from O2, Vodafone, EE, and Three. The aim is to eliminate mobile “not-spots,” or zones where there is very poor or no coverage at all, typically in rural areas.
24 Seven managing director David Samuel, 39, says the SIM cards are available now, though a fixed pricing strategy for wide public use is still in development. Full roaming with unlimited calls, texts, and 2GB of data, he says, will cost around £65.
He says the product has been a year in the development. “Twelve months ago it dawned on me that we have the infrastructure, and with a technology partner, do something about mobile not-spots,” he told Business Insider.
“We were thinking about a solution before the government started talking about it — we’ve written the software in-house. When Sajid Javid [Culture Secretary] started looking into this we thought this could ruin all the work we’ve put in; or it could help it do really well. I think it will be the latter. We have the technology. It’s ready. This can be huge.”
“We have the technology. It’s ready. This can be huge.”
Samuel said the two biggest gripes of customers are battery life and phone signal. As a B2B telecoms provider, 24 Seven’s background is with business professionals and the new SIM cards were developed primarily with them in mind. Although the technology is available to anyone, Samuel said.
“We’ve got people in mind who are dependant on full signal everywhere, such as doctors, travelling business leaders, and so on,” he explains. “But realistically, this is open to anyone who needs it so if people want it, it’s there.”
With its market growing, the 24 Seven sales team is putting together pricing plans for potential customers. The estimates are more costly than most contracts around.
“Prices will start at £35 per month, which would be 500 minutes, 500 texts, and 500mb of data. Unlimited calls, texts, and 2GB data is likely to cost around £65 per month,” Samuel says.
“Prices will start at £35 per month, which would be 500 minutes, 500 texts, and 500mb of data.
Unlimited calls, texts, and 2GB data is likely to cost around £65 per month,” Samuel says.
The company is an Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), which means that it uses the major carriers’ networks, which is the same way Virgin or Tesco Mobile operates.
Samuel says he’s confident in what his business can offer and is in the process of recruiting more staff.
The technology will likely be welcomed by more than just a handful of business professionals. Since Prime Minister David Cameron renewed his pledge to end poor phone coverage in troubled spots — in his case, Cornwall — the Government has been trying to tackle the problem.
Last month, Business Insider reported Sajid David’s attempt to put a national roaming network in place and force the big phone companies to make roaming happen. But the calls were met with apparent rejection — despite Javid passionately putting the case forward, claiming improved signal is “vital for our economy”.
Samuel believes it’s wrong that the issue has not been dealt with yet. “Surely in this day and age, technology providers owe the public a more reliable mobile signal?”
“Mobile reception affects so many areas of life. Businesses in particular could stand to lose out on millions of pounds due to poor signal strength or feeble network coverage,” Samuel said.
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